The State of Texas: April 9, 2014
Photo of the Day
In a short and succulent post, Buzzfeed notes that the LBJ Civil Rights Summit in Austin opened with a video that featured a photo of the historic lunch counter protests. The video’s message was somewhat tempered, however, with this sign outside the auditorium:
Texas By The Numbers
Black Mark — Pounds of oiled sand and debris cleaned up since the Galveston Bay spill in March: 200,000. Pounds of material removed from the shoreline of Mustang Island: 102,700. From South Matagorda: 93,550 pounds. From Bob Hall pier: 4,525 pounds. Number of coastline miles soiled by the spill: 22. Number of response workers still on cleanup duty: 528. Number of oiled birds recovered so far: 258.
Hoop Dreams — Amount NCAA championship and NASCAR event brought in for DFW: more than $200 million. Number of additional visitors to the area: between 150,000 to 200,000. Number of fans at record-breaking NCAA semifinal games at AT&T Stadium: 79,444. Previous record, from 2003: 78,129. Number of fans at largest DFW basketball event, in 2010: 108,713.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems — Estimated amount of budget surplus that politicians and interested parties will fight over next legislative session: $2.5 billion. Estimated amount in Rainy Day Fund by fall of 2015: $8 billion. Amount of IOUs the previous legislative session had to settle: $4 billion. Expected amount of IOUs for 2015: “significantly smaller.”
Summ-it Up — Day one of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin appears to have gone very well. Jimmy Carter was the first of four (!) presidents to speak, telling a sold-out crowd, “We’ve fallen short in a lot of ways … We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful fiftieth anniversary. Which is … wonderful but we feel like, you know, Lyndon Johnson did it. We don’t have to do anything anymore. I think too many people are at ease with the still existing disparity.” A look back at segregation wasn’t the only thing on the menu, however. As Texas Monthly‘s own Erica Grieder notes in her recap, the first panel was about gay marriage. And the second? Immigration. That one even brought together the interesting duo of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour. Grieder will continue covering the summit on Burkablog, but for those wanting quick-hits on the event as it happens, follow her on Twitter.
Home Court Advantages — The final score is in and it would seem DFW has some baller skills when it comes to hosting national championships. Not only were Conan O’Brien, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton in town, the event also attracted record-setting crowds. The debut performance even garnered praise from NCAA administrators who expressed interest in returning. “We’d love to come back … I think it’s been an unqualified success,” said the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball championships, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. That ain’t just talk either, since “North Texas is one of eight finalists for another Final Four between 2017 and 2020.” But of course, there were some haters. As the Dallas Morning News notes, the weather was probably the biggest problem. And national media, which—between praise—took shots at how inaccessible by foot the events was and complained about the city’s infamous traffic. In other words, they had true DFW experience.
Debate 101 — The Texas State Board of Education is considering a “proposal … that would add a Mexican-American studies course as a statewide high school elective,” a prudent idea given the growing number of Mexican-American students in public schools. But this “long-shot” idea is getting push-back from some board members, according to the Associated Press, including David Bradley (R-Beaumont), who “called the course ‘reverse racism’ and threatened ‘to pull a Cesar Chavez and boycott.'” And he did. Because nothing says civil engagement and healthy public debate like refusing to talk. Some board members felt such a specific course was exclusionary and preferred a “multicultural studies class encompassing the accomplishments of Mexican-Americans but also Texans of other races and ethnicities.” Perhaps there’s room for both? As the AP notes, “the state already offers more than 200 high school electives, including floral design.”
Crime of Fashion — One of the more bizarre Lone Star trials in recent memory came to a conclusion yesterday. “A Houston woman was convicted of murder … for fatally stabbing her boyfriend with the 5½-inch stiletto heel of her shoe, hitting him at least 25 times in the face,” according to the Associated Press. The jury deliberated for about two hours, after testimony and evidence that included a showing of the “size 9 platform pump.” The woman’s lawyer argued that she had simply used the shoe to defended herself during an attack. Apart from the weapon of choice itself, the most curious visual has to be the moment when the prosecutor playfully tossed the footwear in the air before taping the heel on the wood of the jury box. It looks like something out of a basic cable legal drama.