Quote of the Day

“You know when the light caches you at the right angle? You don’t look like that everyday. I guess I was in the right light.”

—Houston Texans star J.J. Watt after catching some heat for posting a shirtless photo of himself, according to KPRC. Although most fans fawned over Watt’s abdominals, one anonymous assistant coach took the chance to criticize the defensive end’s focus. Watt certainly doesn’t seem too concerned. 

Daily Roundup

Severed Ties—State agencies aren’t allowed to keep using “emergency leave” as a reason to pay former employees for months after they’ve left, per an order that comes straight from the top: Governor Greg Abbott and the state comptroller. The Dallas Morning News first reported that state agencies were using emergency leave for reasons other than its stated purpose (emergencies), and were basically handing out free money to people who were no longer earning it by, you know, working for the state. Among the agency heads who treated emergency leave like candy at a parade: Attorney General Ken Paxton, Ag Commissioner Sid Miller and, according to the Houston Chronicle, Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Still, Abbott’s order is a little surprising considering the leaders of the state agencies found to have abused emergency leave stood firm and maintained they didn’t do anything wrong. According to the Morning News, Abbott said in a memo that the practice is “prohibited” until the state legislature has a chance to parse out the legality of its use.

Bad Apple—A middle school teacher in Houston was charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child after she regularly had sex with a thirteen-year-old student, became pregnant with the student’s child, and had an abortion after their “relationship” was discovered. This is one of the strangest and most disturbing of the many, many cases of improper teacher-student relationships in Texas (they’re all disturbing, but this one is just—well, you’ll see). Alexandria Vera, a teacher at an Aldine ISD middle school, said that the kid’s parents were aware of their relationship and were OK with it. From KPRC: “Vera told an officer that the school had an open house in October, when she met the student’s parents. After the open house, Vera went to the student’s home and was introduced as his girlfriend to his parents. According to the report, Vera said the parents were accepting of their relationship and she was invited to family gatherings.” Vera told police that after she got pregnant, she informed the student’s family and “they were supportive and excited about the baby,” according to KPRC. Vera told police she had the abortion after Child Protective Services got wind of what was going on. According to KHOU, CPS is now investigating the student’s family, too.

Starr Steps Down—Not long after he was booted from his role as president, Baylor’s Ken Starr said he is resigning from his post as university chancellor, too. The longtime face of the university was hammered (along with others in the administration and athletics department) in an independent investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton for completely failing to properly handle accusations of sexual abuse, particularly against members of the football team, in a massive scandal that also cost head football coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw their jobs. In an on-camera sit-down interview, Starr told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he’d step down as chancellor right away “as a matter of conscience,” but would remain a professor in the law school. A summation of Starr’s comments to ESPN: he feels bad and accepts responsibility, but also claims he wasn’t aware of the allegations of mishandled sexual assault cases and stands by Briles, calling him “a person of genuine character.” It’s a bit surprising Starr would publicly say that about Briles, given the brutal findings of the Pepper Hamilton report, which showed the genuinely disturbing lengths football coaches and staff went to prevent adequate investigation processes following sexual assault allegations.

Clickety Bits

A bunch of random cattle were just chilling in a Pearland neighborhood. (Houston Chronicle)

Remember when that Syrian family was “caught” at the Texas border and everyone freaked out? This is them. (Mother Jones)

Texas’s Chewbacca Mask lady just earned herself a college scholarship. (Associated Press)

Best bowling family in Texas? (El Paso Times)

Someone (or something) ripped up an Army veteran’s American flag. (KBMT)