The State of Texas: April 25, 2014
Video of the Day
KPRC-TV morning anchor Jennifer Reyna became part of a Jimmy Kimmel Live bit because she, like many anchors across America, had difficulty saying the name of actress Lupita Nyong’o (though she was “close,” according to her co-anchor, Lauren Freeman):
Contested Divorce — The state continued efforts yesterday to prevent anything related to legalizing same-sex marriage, this time by halting “divorce and child-custody proceedings for two San Antonio women who were legally married out of state,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The Fourth Court of Appeals put the brakes on proceedings after “state District Judge Barbara Hanson Nellermoe of San Antonio allowed the divorce case to continue because, she said in a five-page opinion, the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional and therefore invalid.” Attorney General Greg Abbott stepped in at that point and had the appeals court issue an emergency stay “to avoid the legal chaos.” Some sort of higher court decision needs to be made pretty soon, though, as these type of cases are beginning to stack up on the judicial docket. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is set to consider a similar lower-court ruling from February.
Abuse of Irony — The plot thickens in the RosePerry “scandal.” Rick Perry is already facing a grand jury over possible abuse of power when he vetoed funding for the state’s public corruption unit because its Democratic chief, Rosemary Lehmberg, would not resign her post after a drunk driving arrest. Yesterday, irony reared its ugly head when the San Antonio Express-News reported that “aides to Gov. Rick Perry offered … Lehmberg continued employment in her office if she resigned. …Several officials told the San Antonio Express-News that Perry — through intermediaries — offered various options to Lehmberg to entice her resignation, culminating in promises to restore funding to the unit, another position for her in the district attorney’s office and the selection of her top lieutenant to serve as the new district attorney.” The offer was “sweetened again” with Perry’s office indicating that “Lehmberg would be allowed to remain in her office in another capacity.” His office also allegedly looked for a compromise, promising to appoint a Democrat in Lehmberg’s place. It’s not looking good for Governor Perry, but leave it to Slate to look for the upside, which they explored in their piece, “Rick Perry’s Abuse-of-Power Scandal May Actually Help Him.”
Gulf Crimes — What, exactly, caused the tugboat crash that led to 170,000 gallons of oil being dumped into the Houston Ship Channel? The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating, but a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleges it was “speeding and being operated in a reckless manner,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine alleges in court documents filed earlier this month that the March 22 collision, which occurred after the ship struck a barge the tugboat had been pulling, was caused by gross negligence on the part of the ship’s owner.” Kirby Inland Marine is seeking $10 million in damages. While the coast guard remains mum on its investigation, court documents are beginning to flow. Kirby Inland Marine (owner of one of the tugboats in the collision) is actually part of another lawsuit brought on by local fisherman in which it’s named a plaintiff along with the other tugboat’s owner, Galaxy Marine. Expect the finger-pointing to last longer than a tugboat trip to Europe. On the bright side, officials earlier this week said the cleanup appears to be nearly complete!
It’s Kabuki, Y’all — Texas politicians are apparently still kicking up dust about federal land rights, thanks to the now-infamous Cliven Bundy stand-off earlier this month. In question are about 90,000 acres along the Red River bordering Oklahoma, of which revised regulations on federally-owned land are being considered by the Bureau of Land Management. Following his likely successor’s letter-writing lead early this week, Governor Perry used lofty rhetoric when discussing the issue Thursday on CBS This Morning: “If this country’s to stay the land of freedom and liberty, private property rights must be respected.” Perry, a true believer of everything’s-bigger-here, then “called the Nevada case ‘a side issue’ compared to what’s occurring in Texas.” The Houston Chronicle does a wonderful job showing how the Nevada-launched BLM controversy is being grazed upon by Texas politicians. Abbott insists that his “deeply concerned” letter to BLM was, despite the timing, in no way related to the Bundy stand-off. A good thing since it recently became necessary for politicians to distance themselves from the blatantly ignorant racist Cliven Bundy. Nonetheless, Abbott is, “fundraising on the issue, sending an email to supporters Thursday saying the candidate ‘has fought back, telling the feds to ‘Come and Take It!'” And Republicans aren’t alone in manipulating the us-vs.-them mentality: both Wendy Davis and her running mate, Leticia Van de Putte, “were quick to say they would fight any attempt by the federal government to take private lands in Texas.” That the BLM, according to its spokesman, is “categorically not expanding federal holdings along the Red River,” is just a minor detail in this grand, Texas Kabuki drama.