The State of Texas: April 30, 2014
From the investigative journalists at the Daily Mail, Matthew McConaughey’s wife, Camila Alves, said the family is considering moving to Texas because they can Just Keep Livin’ here—less celebrity hassle, more freedom for the kids to play in the smog-free outdoors, etc. Having the McConaissance continue to rise within the Texas Miracle? Alright, alright, alright!
Texas By The Numbers
Aftershock — Amount raised by foundation overseeing West, Texas, donations meant to help the disaster’s victims: $3.6 million. Amount of payments the group has approved: $1.6 million. Original goal for mid-April: $2 million. New goal for July: $3 million. Number of specific reasons given for sluggish effort: 0.
Spring (Fun) Breakers — Number of DWI arrests during the Department of Public Safety’s spring break initiative: 1,374. Number of speeding citations: 18,826. Number of seatbelt and/or child safety citations: 3,266. Fugitive arrests: 848. Felony arrests: 713. Miscellaneous citations: 23,400.
Dust, Up — Number of days in 2014 dust has reduced visibility in Lubbock to less than half a mile: 29. That figure the same time last year: 14 days. In 2012: 17 days. In 2011: 18 days. In 2010: eight days.
Out of Energy — In a move that surprised not a single financial expert, one of the state’s largest electricity retailers, TXU Energy, filed for bankruptcy yesterday. This announcement from the company, which was bought out in 2007 by a private equity firm for more than $40 billion, a record-breaking figure, “represents a reckoning of sorts for some of the biggest names in private equity, a signature Wall Street business that over the last decade drastically reshaped corporate America and in the process took what it meant to be ‘rich’ to a new level,” according to the New York Times‘s buyout breakdown. Or to put it in familiar terms: sometimes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. “The bankruptcy [$40 billion in debt] is the 11th largest in history and one of the largest failures of a company in private-equity hands.” If you’re one of TXU’s 1.7 million customers, fear not. The company assured folks that they don’t have to worry about the lights going out, according to the Dallas Morning News. On the bright (get it?) side, the bankruptcy may cause positive activity for customers. Competitors are now trying to woo TXU’s customers. “The Texas retail electricity market is highly competitive, with more than 200 companies vying for 11.1 million customers … About 400,000 customers have left TXU since 2008.”
Hard Lessons — The kids are mostly alright. It’s the teachers and staff that are having trouble. Smarting over the fact that Dallas lost the headline-making Toyoto relocation bid to the likes of Plano, Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings placed the blame on the city’s education system. “We don’t get Toyota in Dallas because of the school system. We’ve talked to them. They want to be in Plano,” Rawlings said. “[The Toyota CEO said], ‘I need to be where our families are sending their kids to school,’ and they are not sending them to DISD.” And Dallas isn’t the only one seeing quarrels with its ISD. Over in Houston, “Seven HISD teachers and the Houston Federation of Teachers union plan to file a federal lawsuit this week over the district’s teacher evaluation system, one of the first nationwide to grade teachers based on students’ test scores,” according to the Houston Chronicle. The details of the lawsuit haven’t been made public yet, but it’s “likely to draw national attention as more and more districts move to tie teachers’ pay and job security to student performance.”
Clean Skies of Texas — The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a significant blow to the State of Texas when it ruled in a 6-2 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency’s coal-powered emissions regulations were constitutional. Texas had led the multi-state charge against the EPA and its execution of a Clean Air Act section known as the “good neighbor” provision. “Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling means that Texas and 26 other ‘upwind’ states in the South, Midwest and Appalachia will have to reduce some of their emissions that contribute to air pollution in East Coast states like New York,” according to the Texas Tribune. “Coal plants are among those likely be the most affected, particularly as they are already dealing with new limits on their carbon dioxide emissions.” As the DMN notes, “The decision may prompt utilities such as Southern Co. and American Electric Power Co. to shutter coal-fired power plants, as it would require them to install more pollution-control systems.” (Still unknown: whether the state’s loss in court probably will negatively affect Attorney General Greg Abbott’s campaign for governor.)
Infernal Affairs — The new sheriff in town is taking “there’s a new sheriff in town” to heart. Hidalgo County’s new sheriff, Eddie Guerra, “shook up Internal Affairs last week, removing three investigators and limiting the unit’s authority to administrative matters,” according to The Monitor. And there was no mincing of words by the sheriff’s spokesman: “The way Internal Affairs was running under the previous administration isn’t the way Internal Affairs will run under the current administration.” Guerra appears to be starting from scratch as best he can after the Panama Unit corruption scandal that erupted under former sheriff, Lupe Trevino.