The State of Texas: April 22, 2014
Video of the Day
It has not been a good week for local police. Or, perhaps, Texas’s finest have seen finer days. First there was the picture snapped of the motorcycle officer allegedly texting while driving. Now, a Georgetown cop is on paid leave after being filmed tripping and pushing high school students. Their crime seems to have been a little excited after a state championship soccer game and half-heartedly rushing the field. The GPD is investigating the matter, telling the Austin American-Statesman that the polceman’s actions “were not appropriate measures for a crowd control situation.”
‘For I, the Lord, Love Justice’ — … That’s Isaiah 61:8 and the deacon at a Mineola church would have done well to recall that passage Monday. Police arrested the deacon, living under an alias, for “murder, committing crimes with a firearm, being a convict in possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm without a license,” according to CNN. The alleged crimes happened in Pennsylvania in 1981, and the man was already a convicted murderer, having plead guilty to killing a man in 1960. “It remains unclear how Miller got from Pennsylvania to Texas, or why he chose the town of Mineola, about 85 miles east of Dallas,” wrote the Associated Press, which has clearly never seen the beautiful pinewoods surrounding Mineola. At 78, the fugitive “has arthritis, a Pacemaker and walks with a cane … [a city administrator said the fugitive] served on a handful of town boards and commissions and came to him for advice on obtaining a reverse mortgage. ‘He always wanted to be active in the community … always wanting to help.” The man is awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
The New Company Town — If a town is simply one big natural gas facility, is it still a town? The Houston Chronicle takes an in-depth look (subscription required) at Quintana, an island community an hour south of Houston whose few dozen citizens have been fighting the Freeport LNG and its conspicuous natural gas facility for more than a decade. “As Freeport LNG planned its expansion last year, it made the unusual [$225,000] offer to every homeowner,” reports Ryan Holeywell. “That makes Quintana a unique chapter in the story of the American energy renaissance. While there’s been a litany of narratives about boom towns from North Dakota to South Texas, Quintana may be the only community that could shrink — or even vanish, some holdout homeowners fear — in response to the country’s surge in energy production.” So far, the company has agreed to purchase 44 of 73 residences of the town that, despite its tranquil location, has been in decline. There are hold-outs against the company’s generous offers and 56 of the town’s 66 registered voters have signed a petition urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to deny construction permits. In the words of True Detective‘s Rust Cohle, “This place is like somebody’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading.” Or, in the words of one resilient resident: “”I love this place. It’s paid for. The taxes are low. Why the hell should I go? I was here first.”
A Distracted State — For some reason, the subject of texting and driving has become an important news story in the past few days. First there was the non-news news item declaring that a state-wide ban on the practice probably won’t happen when Rick Perry’s replacement assumes gubernatorial duties in eight months. Now comes a texting-while-driving study, as reported by the Texas Tribune. In this case, however, the statistics are a tad scary. The study of 3,000 drivers by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that “[t]hree out of four Texans at least occasionally speak on a cellphone while driving and nearly half sometimes read or text while driving” and almost half of the respondents said they’ve read or typed messages while driving. The number of regular car-yappers was 24 percent, a suspiciously low number for anyone with a cellphone and/or motorized vehicle. One interesting result is the demographics themselves. “People with higher education were more likely to speak on the phone, text or look at Facebook or other websites while driving than those with lower education. ‘That’s pretty different from what we see with other traffic safety issues like alcohol-imparied driving and not wearing seatbelts,’ [said the study’s leader]. ‘Usually there’s a negative relationship between education and the behavior; in this case, it’s the opposite.’”
CSI: Hollywood Park Edition — The peculiar case of a deceased Hollywood Park mayor continues a new chapter after a judge granted the family permission to exhume the remains. As KSAT reports, “Bohlke was found dead at the family’s Atascosa County ranch last year. His death was ruled accidental. According to Atascosa County investigators, Bohlke was attacked by a mule.” The family, however, believes Bohlke wasn’t beaten to death by a mule, but a man (or men). Bohlke’s widow has been pushing for a renewed investigation into the matter—the San Antonio Express-News reported earlier this month that the window “asked a private investigator to probe the death, and his independent report stated there was evidence to show he may have been murdered. The report cited what the private investigator said was a boot print on Bohlke’s back. Although an Atascosa County justice of the peace reportedly ordered an inquest into Bohlke’s death at the time, an autopsy wasn’t conducted and his death was ruled an accident.” A motive behind the widow’s suspicions is not easily teased from various articles, although she did say in February that two men who’d shown interest in buying a bull weren’t questioned by authorities.