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The State of Texas: April 9, 2015

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Photo of the Day

Ridiculously luxurious condos with all sorts of amenities are popping up in every major Texas city. But a commanding view from the commode? Seems a bit excessive:

Magic Thursday

Lou Holtz: legendary coach, skeletal pumpkin, ridiculous sports commentator, and . . . magician. Holtz showed off his amazing skill during a coach clinic hosted by UT. If this whole football thing doesn’t work out, he has a future career at kids’s parties:

Daily Roundup

Dismissed –  Hannah Overton’s long nightmare appears to be over. The case involving the mother and her murder trial over the poisoning of her adopted son had captured the attention of both Texas and the nation. But yesterday, District Attorney Mark Skurka filed a motion Wednesday “to dismiss the capital murder charge against her [and] it was signed by Judge Mario Ramirez,” reports the Corpus Chrisiti Caller-Times. “That means we’re done. The case is over,” San Antonio-based lawyer Cynthia Orr said. The dismissal puts an end to the nearly decade-long case. Overton was arrested in 2006, convicted in 2007, then served seven years in prison. Her capital murder conviction was overturned back in September. While Overton no doubt wants to move forward, those wanting to look back at the infamous case should definitely check out the exhaustive (see: award-nominated, anthologized, and universally praised) coverage by Texas Monthly’s own Pamela Colloff.

Shocking Report – A year and a half ago, a mentally ill inmate at the Harris County jail was found living in degrading and disgusting conditions. Now, an investigation into the incident is finally attempting to place blame. “A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Ricky Pickens-Wilson and John Figaroa, two detention officer sergeants who oversaw the cell block at the county jail where Goodwin’s cell was found in ‘deplorable’ conditions,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “The indictment accuses the two detention officers of signing forms or making entries into jail records saying Goodwin’s cell had been checked for contraband and that excessive trash, if present in the cell had been removed.” Other members of the jail staff were investigated but there appears to be only enough evidence to indict the two men, and it was difficult for prosecutors to prove any kind of intent. Prisoner advocates say the investigation and indictment aren’t enough, questioning how much the sheriff or people higher up the command chain knew and when they knew it. An official with the Harris County prosecutor’s office said, “I think a lot of people dropped the ball . . . but [that] doesn’t mean they committed a crime.” For the record, the prisoner was “found by a sheriff’s office jail compliance team after weeks in a fetid, stinking cell, surrounded by dozens of gnat-infested food trays, shreds of his torn jail uniform hanging from the ceiling, and his toilet, sink, and shower clogged.”

School Daze – It seems pretty clear that public school testing is all but meaningless in Texas. Earlier this year, it was announced that high school students who failed a degree-required exam might still be allowed to graduate. Now comes news that even schools are getting off the hook. “Officials say they won’t include math scores on state-mandated standardized tests for students in third through eighth grade when calculating this year’s state accountability ratings,” according to the Associated Press. The kids apparently need a “transition year,” says Michael Williams, the education commissioner of Texas. Of course, any kid worried about testing can always turn to the Internet. The Dallas Mornings News has an interesting look at how testing information is making its way to the web thanks to various social media platforms. Despite the fact that students’ test-related comments and jokes “didn’t reveal the questions,” they did offer “enough clues that a simple web search identified test specifics.” But that would require a Texas student to be rather enterprising, which may explain why officials aren’t that concerned.

Not Our Pastime – It’s always been a little harder to be a baseball team in Texas, a football-loving state. But that became painfully clear after the results of the Loyalty Index, a 23-year-old survey of brand fondness, found that Texas Rangers fans are some of the most unloyal of any MLB franchise. The survey is meant to help teams “identify areas, particularly emotional ones, that need strategic brand coaching,” explains the Morning News, and the grading criteria includes pure entertainment value, authenticity, fan bonding, and history and tradition. Of the thirty MLB teams, the Rangers came in at number nineteen, which is bad but not nearly as bad as the Houston Astros’s position, which was, wait for it, dead last. “So what advice would [the creator of the survey] give [the Rangers] franchise? ‘I’d concentrate on authenticity—how the team plays as a team. I’d highlight the new manager.’”

How Cheeky – The state is always on the lookout for someone trying to get away with an offensive vanity license plate, but when a genius pulls one over on them, perhaps they should just let it go. Three years ago, Safer Hassan got a license plate that reads “370H55V.” For all those nerds out there who had fun with calculators in school, that series of letters and numbers, when read upside down, spells “asshole.” According to KPRC, “the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is revoking the personalized license plate . . . because it has now been deemed offensive.” Hassan is not sure how they figured it out, especially since even his closest friends don’t know. “The Texas DMV letter alludes to a similar plate that was recently reviewed and rejected. ‘They may have just searched similar type plates,’ Hassan theorized. Hassan said he planned to appeal the state’s decision.​”

Clickity Bits

Bob Schieffer Tells Homecoming Crowd at TCU He’s Retiring

Teacher Busted For Giving Out (Very Inaccurate) Anti-Muslim Cheatsheets 

UT Regents Will Let Wallace Hall Review More Documents

Texas Senate Okays revamping Public Integrity Unit

Mind Trip: Lege Actually Considering Marijuana Bills

These Texas Rebels Say the American Flag Is More Racist Than the Confederate Flag

Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet @TexasMonthly and @ThatWinkler.

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