The State of Texas: April 6, 2015
Photo of the Day
Did you have a good Easter Sunday? The state’s O.G. Republican did too. While some politicians felt the need to make a vague religious/political point-scoring jab on social media, Ron Paul took a picture with his numerous grandkids in which he looked quintessentially Ron Paulian, short-shorts and all:
Forget the #LlamaDrama from February, Texas now has its own high-speed animal chase. This one involves a buffalo evading Round Rock animal control and police, looking rather majestic in the process:
Side Effects – The Ebola fight continues, except this one is being waged in court. Texas Health Resources, the company that owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where “Ebola Nurse” Nina Pham contracted the disease, has responded to a lawsuit she filed in March that contends she didn’t receive proper disease training and was used as a PR pawn. Covering all its bases, Texas Health Resources “generally denies the allegations,” according to the Dallas Morning News. In addition, the company says the lawsuit isn’t even in the right court. “Texas Health Resources said that because Pham contracted the disease while working for the hospital as an ICU nurse, her remedy should be a worker’s compensation claim.” The company also claims it had Pham’s expressed consent to videotape her and release all the information made public. “I am disappointed but not surprised about the answer THR filed,” said Pham’s attorney.
The Unwanted – Assisting with the relocation of convicted sex offenders is a complicated task, one made more difficult now that the state is dealing with two companies that reneged on contracts to provide halfway housing for released convicts. Texas is now “scrambling to relocate more than 100 sex offenders,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “Beyond the 185 men currently in the program, another 178 prison inmates have been ordered to be placed in it upon their release—including 22 by the end of the year.” The Office of Violent Sex Offender Management has been doing the best it can with what it has, though it has come under criticism for its rehabilitative efforts as “no offender in the civil-commitment program has been approved for release in its 15-year history.” It’s a tricky balance to strike, and while officials have actually looked into housing the released offenders in former jails, one Harris County public defender said that “current rules under which the men must live are so burdensome that violations are common, resulting in nearly half of those put into the program being returned to prison.”
For Whom the Blue Bell Tolls – It’s been a rough few weeks for Blue Bell Ice Cream. Following a fatal listeria outbreak in mid-March that officials linked to the Brenham-baesd company’s ice cream products, Blue Bell announced that it is suspending operations at an Oklahoma plant where the bacteria was found. This news prompted H-E-B and Randalls to pull Blue Bell products from their shelves as a precaution, and the Houston Astros ballpark has done the same. The reaction from retailers will undoubtedly see the company’s profits melt away faster than ice cream on the Fourth of July as Blue Bell works to resolve the issue. (See if Blue Bell has been shipped to your state.)
Lawyer Games – As far as expensive, paperwork-heavy lawsuits go, Rick Perry’s felony abuse of power case just got a wee bit more interesting. A Houston lawyer has, “for unknown reasons,” filed a public records request “asking, among other things, for copies of all invoices prosecutors have submitted in the case,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. The paper was unable to contact the lawyer, so his actual motives are unclear, but it seems pretty obvious that the request is meant to force the special prosecutors, Michael McCrum and David Gonzalez, to essentially show their hand by revealing who they’ve interviewed and what case they appear to be making. Coincidentally (or … not) Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled March 12 “that the invoices are public records and must be released.” To make matters even more confusing, McCrum and Gonzalez are now “suing Paxton on the side,” regarding the March 12 decision. The lawsuit “argues that the invoices are part of a judicial record, not a ‘governmental’ one and therefore not subject to the state’s public records law.” Regardless, it looks like Perry’s famed “All-Star Legal Team” now unexpectedly includes a mysterious Houston lawyer and the state’s attorney general.