The State of Texas: April 24, 2014
Video of the Day
You might be accustomed to seeing scenes of old Texas in the black-and-white variety, but the footage of Dallas, captured in 1939 Kodachrome video footage, is lovely look at the city in full color. The Dallas Morning News, along with a few historically minded citizens, bought the footage off eBay and have converted it for us digital consumers. Look at all of those pedestrians!
“I wouldn’t call San Antonio a dynasty — a force, a great force. They haven’t been able to win consecutive championships,” said Phil Jackson of his old rivals. So a dynasty requires back-to-back championships, but nevermind that the Spurs produced the most “successful seventeen-year stretch in NBA history“? The long-time Buddhist might want to have a calming prayer ready should he ever make his way to San Antonio.
Oh, Crud, HUD — It’s the second verse, same as the first for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Two Dallas attorneys have once again filed a lawsuit against HUD, accusing it of “subsidizing racial segregation,” according to the Dallas Morning News. This sequel suit stems from one filed in 2007 because a HUD program only offered subsidized rent for needy participants in “predominantly minority markets where many of the neighborhoods are blighted and have inadequate public and private services and facilities.” HUD made corrections to the program but the attorneys say it has “reverted back to its old ways, paying more to landlords in low-income zip codes ‘marked by slum and blight.'” As the DMN notes, HUD has said the same thing about the city at large. In an investigation last year, HUD accused the city of promoting “discrimination against minorities” with its own affordable housing projects. So much for erasing Dallas’s old image. At least “City of Racial Segregation” is more specific than “City of Hate.”
Assaulting the Problem — Republicans take a lot of heat for their “war on women,” particularly, as of late, in Texas. So perhaps it’s worth commending the national efforts of Senator John Cornyn, who is once again pushing to “renew a federal program that gives grant money to local law enforcement agencies to help battle a backlog of untested rape kit examinations,” according to the DMN. Cornyn pushed the effort in Dallas on Tuesday, flanked by police officials and the “area’s most prominent advocates for sexual assault victims.” Like much of the country, Dallas is familar with the terrible backlog of untested rape kits—more than 4,000 (it’s estimated there are about 400,000 nationally). This has been, and continues to be, a big issue for Cornyn, who even published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, pointedly titled, “It’s time for sexual assault victims to find justice in U.S.” You’d be hard-pressed to find a decent person, on either side of the political aisle, that would disagree with that.
Alls Well, that Sues the Well — A Wise County couple has fought an energy company, Aruba Petroleum, and won. Somewhat. In a five-to-one verdict Tuesday, a jury awarded the couple $2.9 million dollars (they were asking for $9 million) for “damages for lost property value … past mental anguish, pain and suffering by the couple and their daughter; and … future pain and suffering” thanks to the company’s drilling, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Local residents struggling against oil and gas companies is an on-going issue. Just look at Houston Chronicle‘s report this week on the new company town of Quintana, or one family’s 2011 battle against Aruba, detailed in the pages of Texas Monthly (their suit was later “resolved in a confidential settlement”). What distinguishes this latest legal conflict? “It is believed to be one of the few cases filed by landowners claiming harm from Barnett Shale gas operations to have gone to trial. Most are dismissed or settled, attorneys said.” In fact, one attorney who has filed a number of suits against companies in the Barnett Shale has only had one go to trial, resulting in the company’s favor. Whether this latest, tiny victory means much in the long-term is as clear as the long-term success of the oil boom itself.
Will Hunt For Food — Two birds, er, hogs, one stone? “Locally sourced pork finally may be on the menu for needy Houston-area families as Harris County Precinct 3 launches its most ambitious effort yet to eradicate feral hogs damaging parkland and neighborhoods around the Barker and Addicks reservoirs,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Within a month, precinct employees hope to begin trapping and transporting the wild pigs to a meat processing facility in Brookshire, where they will be butchered, frozen and distributed to area food banks.” It’s a long-gestating plan by city officials that not only has federal approval but a big thumbs-up by the food bank. Skeptics, like one official with the Texas office of Wildlife Services, “the U.S. Department of Agriculture branch designated to address human-wildlife conflicts,” say programs like these are short-lived thanks to actual costs. And then there’s the whole problem of the dirty, disease-carrying swine. “It’s like Russian roulette,” said the official. “It’s great publicity while it works, but the minute something goes wrong, the minute somebody gets sick, there’s going to be all hell to pay.” In the meantime, however, locals seems to be as happy with the program as a dead pig in the sunshine. Or a pig in slop. Or living high on the hog. Or whatever pork metaphor. Regardless, pigs in a blanket sounds like a really delicious meal.