Quote of the Day
“Are you kidding me with these property taxes?”
-President Barack Obama, to an unnamed source. According to the Austin Chronicle, POTUS is moving to Austin after he leaves office. Why? Because he is just so darned impressed with the city’s “natural beauty and bustling economy.” Maybe he also felt at home during his recent Lone Star visit, chowing down on Torchy’s Tacos and trying on cowboy hats. Actually, this is probably just an expertly played April Fool’s joke– after all, the Chronicle‘s “Resident Obama” cover story did hit newsstands on the first of the month.
Cruz Missile— Ted Cruz is politely trying to drive John Kasich into the dirt. According to the Texas Tribune, the Cruz/Kasich conflict currently resembles a “proxy war,” apparently because Cruz isn’t calling Kasich a “sniveling coward” or off handedly threatening him with vehicular homicide, as he is in his ongoing bare-knuckle brawl with frontrunner Donald Trump. Kasich, who has served as a sort of unwanted remora to the Cruz campaign’s Trump-hunting shark, doesn’t have a realistic shot at winning the GOP nomination, yet stubbornly remains a barrier between the top two candidates, presenting Cruz with an exhausting undercard fight before he can face Trump in a main event slugfest. With the Wisconsin primary approaching, supporters of Cruz and Kasich are trading sleazy PAC-ad punches, and Cruz is hitting Kasich where it hurts: it is mathematically impossible for him to win the nomination before the convention. “You’re not electable if you can’t win elections,” Cruz coldly told a Wisconsin radio host. Meanwhile, Cruz is trying to get Kasich kicked off the ballot in Montana, claiming he doesn’t have enough signatures to qualify. Writes the Associated Press: “The Cruz campaign asserts Kasich’s petition contains signatures with invalid notaries, improper dates, mismatched phone numbers and illegible names, among other potential discrepancies.” How did one of Kasich’s Montana campaign staffers respond? “Ted Cruz might be afraid of the competition.” Fightin’ words!
Blue Bell Blues—Is Blue Bell finally listeria-less? One year after a listeria outbreak at the beloved ice creamery’s iconic Brenham plant was linked to three deaths, Blue Bell has completed its internal investigation and apparently made some improvements. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Blue Bell’s report to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims it has “removed suspected sources of contamination and instituted new food safety training, requirements and testing procedures, including screening of finished products.” However, the report fails to hold responsible those atop Blue Bell’s corporate food chain. Writes the Houston Press: “The blame is laid on everyone and everything but the people in charge of the company. After all, it was the sloppy employees, the cleaning jobs that never really sanitized the plants, the ways the machines worked and the ways the plants were built that were at fault, not the people who were running the plants who stayed miraculously unaware of positive listeria tests in the facilities that started popping up as early as 2013.”
Oiled Up—Oil prices and production continue to drop nationwide, and it’s having a kind of weird impact on Texas. According to Reuters, new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the country’s oil production is at its lowest mark since October 2014. But according to the Houston Chronicle, the same report shows that Texas actually increased its barrels-per-day output for the third straight month as energy companies pile up debt. On Thursday, two large oil companies announced they will shutter their Houston offices, and according to the Dallas Morning News, the price drop has wiped out a whopping 250,000 jobs in Texas. Still, Texas’s overall economy is surging forward, although the Morning News writes that it has been slowed from a sprint to a “deliberate walk.” The oil and gas industry’s troubles haven’t brought any reprieve to Texas’s battered roadways, the Houston Chronicle also reported yesterday. “Because of the high volume of truck traffic and huge machinery needed in the oil patch, farm-to-market roads and highways are taking a beating,” writes the Chronicle. “Many were never meant to handle the heavy loads and are cracking and deteriorating under the demand.” To fix the problem, the Texas Department of Transportation has tossed about $1.5 billion dollars toward state roads in Texas’s energy-heavy areas.