The State of Texas: Donald Trump Flip-Flops On Immigration During His Texas Tour
Plus: The TEA slaps the STAAR test vendor with a massive fine, executions are on the decline in Texas, and the mom of ’Affluenza Kid’ gets a job as a bartender.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“It’s not the most technically challenging thing we’ve ever done, but it was the most heartwarming.”
—Patrick Ferrell, manager of the 3D printer at Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, to the Houston Chronicle. Ferrell helped print five-year-old Katelyn Vincik a new left hand, something she was born without. She wanted one that was pink and purple. She got it.
Trump in Texas
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made national headlines in Austin on Tuesday for appearing to say that he’d be fine with “softening” immigration laws. “There certainly can be a softening because we’re not looking to hurt people,” Trump told Fox News personality and ardent Trump flag-waver Sean Hannity during a taping of a town hall-style meeting at the ACL Live Moody Theater, according to the Texas Tribune. “You have years and years of people waiting on line. They’ve gone through a process.” Trump continued: “They’re great people in some cases, and I guess in some cases, maybe not. But you have really great people wanting and so proudly wanting to come into our country and now what you’re doing is you take people away from that line.” According to the Austin American-Statesman, some people in the crowd—which was closed to reporters—shouted at Trump and accused him of flip-flopping. Whatever “softening” may have occurred earlier that day in Austin appeared to have hardened again by the evening. At a public rally at the Travis County Exposition Center, Trump again focused on immigration, calling it “our most vital issue,” and promising to “build a wall,” “enforce the law,” “protect your jobs and wages,” and “keep our country safe.” About 70 protesters gathered outside, including Travis County GOP Chairman Robert Morrow. Morrow is nothing if not a man of his word: he had promised to show up wearing a jester’s hat and with a big sign that accused Trump of raping children, and that’s exactly what happened (he also appeared to be wearing knee-high white tube socks without an ounce of irony). Security kicked him out.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
Everything is Fine
The Texas Education Agency fined the hell out of Educational Testing Services, the New Jersey-based vendor for Texas’s statewide STAAR tests. According to the Texas Tribune, the TEA slapped ETS with $20.7 million in fines, the largest amount the agency has ever fined anyone. It’s not hard to understand why—STAAR tests last year were a disaster. In ETS’s first crack at administering the tests, thousands of students watched helplessly as their answers were deleted due to a computer glitch, testing booklets were delivered to the wrong districts or went undelivered entirely, some students’s answer sheets went momentarily missing. Education Commissioner Mike Morath was forced to just scrap the requirement for fifth and eighth graders to pass STAAR tests in order to advance to the next grade. With all of that in mind, $20 million seems like more than a fair price tag. ETS will have to pay $5.7 million in “liquidated damages” and has to invest $15 million of its own money “toward an action plan that addresses a number of areas of concern this past school year,” Morath said, according to the Tribune.
Texas isn’t executing criminals like it used to, and neither is the rest of the country. According to the Washington Post, Texas killed 40 people in 2000, more executions than the entire country went through with in each of the past three years. It’s been nearly five months since a convicted criminal was last executed on Texas soil, and during that span, the state has issued four stays of execution, including last Friday’s high-profile order to stop the execution of Jeffrey Woods, who was convicted of capital murder via Texas’s law of parties despite not having pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting. By this point last year, Texas had already executed ten people. This year, however, only six have been executed. According to the Post, Texas could finish the year with less than ten executions for the first time since 1996. Texas’s next high-profile death row case should be Bobby James Moore, who was convicted of fatally shooting a 72-year-old man and sentenced to death, despite having a very low IQ. According to the Houston Chronicle, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether Moore is too intellectually disabled to be executed.
Gin and Tonya
Ethan “Affuenza Teen” Couch’s mom, Tonya, was released from home confinement on Tuesday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Couch is awaiting trial on charges of money laundering and hindering the apprehension of her son, who skipped out on probation for his DWI crash that killed four people in 2013. Ethan Couch earned the “Affluenza” nickname after the defense argued during his initial trial that he was too rich to understand the difference between right and wrong. Per the terms of her release, Affluenza Mom still has to wear an ankle monitor and can’t use drugs or drink alcohol. Meanwhile, she’s apparently found a new job: bartender. Yep, that’s right. The mother of a kid who drunkenly killed four people, and unable to drink alcohol herself, Tonya Couch is mixing cocktails at the Honky Tonk Woman in Azle, outside Fort Worth. According to WFAA, she’s been working there for the past two months.
WHAT WE’RE READING
The Texas Rangers cut Josh Hamilton, but he could be back next season ESPN
Now you can track Baylor’s Title IX improvement progress online Waco Tribune-Herald
Awkward: Ken Paxton is going to eat dinner with the family of an eight-year-old transgender kid Dallas Morning News
Faculty at Incarnate Word want the university’s president to go on medical leave San Antonio Express-News
4,000 dildos Austin American-Statesman