QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m not going to give Texas that pleasure.”
—Former Texas Longhorns football coach Charlie Strong to CBS Sports. Apparently Strong is settling in to his new gig as South Florida’s head coach, which he landed quickly after being jettisoned from UT. Apparently part of the reason he got back on his feet so fast was because he didn’t want to let the Longhorns enjoy his joblessness.
The U.S. Department of Justice dropped its biggest beef with Texas’s voter identification law on Monday. According to the Washington Post, the feds no longer believe Texas was intentionally being racially discriminatory when it passed the law in 2011. The DOJ filed a motion in a Corpus Christi federal court on Monday to “dismiss the discriminatory purpose claim.” The department has yet to drop its claim that the effect of the law was discriminatory—which is basically the beating heart of the DOJ’s case—but with Attorney General Jeff Sessions leading the charge, it seems the department is moving in a completely opposite direction than when it first sued the state to block the law under President Barack Obama in 2013. As the Post notes, the DOJ had been requesting delays in the case since day one of Trump’s presidency. Voting rights advocates are pretty concerned. “The change in the administration is the only explanation for this change [in position], and it’s outrageous,” Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights at the Campaign Legal Center, one of the parties challenging the ID law in the lawsuit, told the Dallas Morning News. “For the Department of Justice to change its position after six years, when none of the facts have changed, is appalling.” Apparently the Texas Lege had something to do with the DOJ’s decision here, particularly a bill filed last week—Senate Bill 5—that would alter the state’s voter ID law in an attempt to comply with other court rulings that have found the law to be discriminatory against minorities. “The United States maintains that the appropriate course is to await the Texas Legislature’s consideration of SB 5 before conducting any further proceedings in this case,” the DOJ said in the motion, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
George W. Bush appeared on NBC’s TODAY show on Monday morning, his first big interview since the election of President Donald Trump. The interview was pretty meaty, even more so considering he was essentially there to promote his new book of portraits. Among the highlights of the interview was Bush’s response to host Matt Lauer’s question about what he thought about the media during his time in the White House. “I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” Bush said. “That we need the media to hold people like me to account. I mean, power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.” Bush also brought up Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling Lauer that he tried to convince Putin of the importance of a free press. “It’s kind of hard to, you know, tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.” That, of course, lead to a question about whether Bush wants to see a special prosecutor investigate the Trump administration’s ties to Russia. “I think we all need answers, Bush said. “Whether or not the special prosecutor’s the right way to go or not, you’re talking to the wrong guy.”
State Senator Don Huffines, a Republican representing Dallas, met with a group of students from Richardson ISD in Austin on Monday to talk about education, and things got pretty heated. According to the Dallas Morning News, during one exchange, a student in the crowd was critical of Huffines’s support of a proposal that would publicly fund stipends to allow students to attend private schools—the student said the stipend wouldn’t be enough money to allow the students to attend the top private schools. “Do you want me to give them $15,000 so they can go to Hockaday or St. Mark’s?” replied Huffines, referencing two of Dallas’s ritziest private schools. “That’s the most selfish thing I’ve ever heard.” Someone in the crowd said they wanted the money that would be used for stipends to instead be used to help public schools. “What makes you think it’s your money?” Huffines said. “It’s the businesses, they’re the taxpayers.” Huffines later had to apologize for the exchange with a group of students that ranged from seventh grade and up. “While the policy was right, Senator Huffines’ tone and delivery today did not live up to the level of civil discourse that he always expects of himself and others,” a spokesman for Huffines said, according to the Morning News.
Whataburger restaurants in Denton County have apparently been the victims of a ruthless crime spree. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Northeast Police Department in the small town of Cross Roads recently announced the seizure of some of the loot: nearly one hundred of those little plastic tents that the burger joint uses for order numbers. The police suspect the culprits are local teens, who may be jacking the order numbers as a game. It’s apparently reached the point where Cross Roads’s Whataburger restaurants have less order numbers on hand than the amount seized by police. Apparently the police found the order numbers holed up in a local basement during a raid, which was a culmination of a ten-year investigation involving the FBI, CIA, and Jason Bourne. Uh, just kidding, they just found some of the order numbers during an unrelated traffic stop. But this is apparently no laughing matter to the cops. “Whataburger is ordering a new bundle (of the numbers) every week because they disappear so fast,” Northeast Police Chief James Edland told the Star-Telegram. “It might be a cool thing to do, but it’s still stealing.”
WHAT WE’RE READING
Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.
What’s missing from the Lege’s agenda? Anything addressing the rise in maternal mortality rates Texas Tribune
A father in Richardson is using medicinal marijuana to treat his self-harming autistic daughter Washington Post
The city of Waco wants to crackdown on public use of its trademarked fancy “W” Waco Tribune-Herald
A transgender woman controversially detained by ICE will be given hormone treatment in custody El Paso Times
A fiery meteor burned up with a bang over Lubbock Lubbock Avalanche-Journal