QUOTE OF THE DAY


“It’s unspeakable, unacceptable, and un-American and we are going to stand in a moment of silence but we’re going to stand as one, one body, to say to those in this state who share those thoughts, to those who would come to our state: not here, not now, not ever. We stand and condemn this together, the state of Texas and the Texas Senate, let us stand together and let us take a moment to pray for the victims, for those injured.”

—Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick addressing the Texas Senate on Monday, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Patrick led the Senate in a moment of silence for the victims of violence perpetrated by white nationalist and neo-Nazi protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. 


BIG NEWS


Richard Spencer, who leads a movement that mixes racism, white nationalism, and populism, points to demonstrator carrying a sign as he speaks at the Texas A&M University campus Tuesday, December 6, 2016.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Canceled
Texas A&M announced on Monday that it canceled a white nationalist’s plans to hold a rally on campus on September 11, according to the Texas Tribune. The university decided to nix the rally “because of concerns about the safety of its students, faculty, staff, and the public,” according to a statement released by A&M. The rally was organized by Preston Wiginton, a 51-year-old former shipping pallet manufacturer who attended A&M for a short time. “TODAY CHARLOTTESVILLE TOMORROW TEXAS A&M,” Wiginton said in a press release announcing the rally, referencing the violent protest over the weekend in Virginia where a reported Nazi sympathizer drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters, injuring dozens and killing a 32-year-old woman. Wiginton was apparently shopping at Wal-Mart on Monday afternoon when he heard from the Tribune that his White Lives Matter rally was canceled. “I guess my lawyers will now be suing the state of Texas,” Wiginton told the outlet. The risks of allowing the event on campus clearly outweighed anything else for Texas A&M. “When we discussed with law enforcement and others who were at the meeting today, there was no guarantee that we could guarantee safety,” A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith told the Tribune. “If we could not get that guarantee from our law enforcement, we were not going to put a single student at risk.” The university was under intense pressure to bar the rally from taking place. Earlier in the day, the entire Texas House banded together to call on A&M Chancellor John Sharp to stop the rally. “This is not Republican versus Democrat, or even white versus black,” said State Representative Helen Giddings, a Democrat from DeSoto, according to the Tribune. “This is about right versus wrong. This is about empowering or not empowering the forces of bigotry.”


MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS


Class Dismissed
The Texas Lege finally acted on the public school funding issue, with the House and Senate each passing the other’s priority school finance reform bill on Monday, according to the Texas Tribune. Lawmakers waited until the eleventh hour to pass the legislation—there are only two days left in the special session. The House passed Senate Bill 16 to form a commission to look at future school funding reform, and the Senate voted Monday night to pass House Bill 21, which would give public schools an immediate $351 million infusion to help address the struggles of small rural schools and students with special needs. HB 21 also adds $212 million to a health insurance program for retired teachers. But as the Dallas Morning News notes, there’s still a lot of work to be done this session on school finance, and “with time so short,” the legislative harmony could fall apart just as soon as it came together.

Deep Trouble
A former South Texas police chief is facing federal drug charges for allegedly working as a member of a drug trafficking organization, according to the McAllen Monitor. Ex-La Joya police chief Geovani Hernandez was arrested by federal agents over the weekend after a federal investigation revealed his ties to an unidentified drug trafficking organization. Court records show Hernandez allegedly had been working with a middleman for drug traffickers, and told several confidential informants that he was helping run drugs over the border. Hernandez also allegedly told an informant that he was a close friend of Gulf Cartel Plaza boss Juan Manuel Loza Salinas, also known as “El Toro.” In November, Hernandez also appeared as an actor in a narco-corrido, or drug ballad, music video for a song about running cocaine from Mission to Houston, which isn’t exactly lying low. Hernandez had been working with the Progreso Police Department as a “provisionary sergeant” at the time of his arrest—Progreso officials announced that Hernandez was no longer with the department effective Monday.

Hazing Scandal
Seven deputies at the Bexar County Jail were put on administrative leave for allegedly participating in a hazing incident at the facility, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar announced on Monday, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The incident happened at a house party on Friday night, when six deputies on the elite Special Emergency Response Team at the jail allegedly hazed a seventh deputy. Salazar said the hazing involved county-issued handcuffs, shackles, and a stun gun. The deputies were placed on leave after video of the incident surfaced. All of the deputies involved viewed it as a joke—apparently involving a deputy’s four-year-old daughter in the hazing process—but Salazar certainly isn’t laughing. “It’s not to be tolerated. It’s not something I’m going to stand for,” he said at a Monday press conference. The deputies could face criminal charges, including hazing, unlawful restraint, and child endangerment.


WHAT WE’RE READING


Some links are paywalled or subscription-only.

A 22-year-old Arlington soldier was killed in Iraq on Sunday in an accident during a combat operation Dallas Morning News

Fracking might be killing off an endangered West Texas lizard Texas Tribune

The state says an Alcoa plant in Point Comfort committed emissions violations by covering the town in dust Victoria Advocate

The first trial in the Twin Peaks biker shootout case was apparently quite the show on Monday Waco Herald-Tribune

A Houston apartment complex had to be evacuated after a man spilled two pounds of mercury that had been stored inside a bottle of Crown Royale Houston Press