Video of the Day
Who knew the grind of a diesel engine would be as welcome as a toot from Gabriel’s horn? Trucks from Blue Bell’s Alabama plant have hit the road with listeria-free ice cream, and a relieved public can soon begin the healing (but mostly eating) process.
Texas By The Numbers
White Light/Green Heat — Hourly power grid demand last week, according to Electric Reliability Council of Texas: 68,459 megawatts. Last time it was that high: never. Previous record: 68,305 megawatts. Year: 2011.
Off-Field Penalties — Number of NFL players arrested in the past five years: 260. Team with fewest arrests: Houston. Number of arrests: one. Number of arrests for the Dallas Cowboys: seven. League average: 9.3.
Show Me the Money (Please!) — Amount Rick Perry raised in the first seven weeks of his 2012 presidential bid: $17 million. Amount Perry reported having in July of this year: $883,913. Amount the super PAC supporting Perry has raised: $17 million. Amount Perry’s campaign staff is currently being paid: $0.
Texas Unrest — Are the times a-changin’? The latest development in the shooting of a black teenager in Arlington suggests there’s at least something happening. During a press conference Tuesday, Police Chief Will D. Johnson announced that he fired Brad Miller, the training officer who shot Christian Taylor during an altercation last Friday. Johnson said he had “serious concerns” about the force used against Taylor, reports the Dallas Morning News. “But Johnson said that despite his concerns over Miller’s level of force, he can’t say whether Miller was justified in shooting Taylor. That will be up to the courts to decide, and they’ll have to do so without video evidence of the shooting, he said.” Johnson seems much more in control of the sensitive situation than, say, the Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith, who made a rather nonsensical statement Monday to a clergywoman keeping vigil for Sandra Bland. In an odd, and somewhat amusing, video by Methodist pastor Hannah Bonner, Smith tells her to “go back to the church of Satan that you run.” Perhaps that was just some leftover animosity from when Bland protesters stormed the lobby of the Waller County jail Sunday and police “forcibly evicted about 30 chanting demonstrators,” writes the Houston Chronicle.
Beards Behind Bars — Both the Morning News and the Texas Tribune take a look at the state’s new prison policy that will allow inmates to forgo the clean-cut look for a little scruff, a concession to prisoners’ religious beliefs. The Tribune helps correct misconceptions that the new grooming program would cost taxpayers $500,000 in paperwork, new inmate photographs, and manpower. A Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman told the Tribune that no taxpayer dollars will be spent in the effort, and that it’s up to individual inmates to front the required costs. The Morning News has a broader look at the new policy, which is already in place in over 40 other states. But not all scruff is equal. A Muslim inmate is suing the state to be able to grow a four-inch beard, way longer than the half-inch Texas now permits, that he says is required by his religion. In other prison news, the Associated Press has what might be the final chapter in a bizarre story. Death row inmate Daniel Lee Lopez has made it clear he wants to be executed Wednesday for the killing of a police officer six years ago. But “despite his wishes and court rulings that he was competent to make that decision, attorneys for Lopez are taking their fight to halt the punishment to the U.S. Supreme Court,” saying Lopez is very obviously mentally ill and has “suicidal tendencies.” Barring a stay from the Supreme Court, Lopez will be executed this evening.
That Old Feeling — Perhaps Attorney General Ken Paxton should just rent a room in the courthouse basement. Two days after his contempt of court hearing was canceled (it was scheduled for Wednesday), Paxton is back in legal news. This time, however, it’s less to do with Paxton and more to do with UT-Austin’s desire to keep things under wraps. As the Austin American-Statesman reports, the university has sued Paxton “in an effort to keep [the paper] from obtaining certain records from an investigation of favoritism in admissions at the Austin campus. … In its lawsuit, filed Friday in state District Court in Travis County, the UT System argues that it should not have to disclose the information because it relates to legislation, litigation or privacy rights.” Paxton had previously ruled that UT couldn’t keep all of its emails private. Maybe this is just an example of ring-around-the-lawsuit — it was just last month that the UT System argued that regent Wallace Hall shouldn’t be allowed to move forward with his own admissions-related lawsuit against the university.
The (Less) Wild Ones — Things are finally chugging along in the legal bottleneck that is the Waco biker shooting cases. “After three months of complaints, accusations, recusals and resets, a visiting judge Tuesday approved a revised examining trial schedule for 17 bikers arrested in the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout,” writes the Waco Tribune-Herald. “With only two of 177 bikers who were arrested on engaging in organized criminal activity charges remaining in the McLennan County Jail, and the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office releasing some of its evidence to defense attorneys, the scheduled examining trials don’t have the sense of urgency they once did.” The examining trials will begin later next week. As the Tribune-Herald explains, “Primarily, the hearings are used by defense attorneys to get a look at the evidence against their clients. If a judge rules there was not probable cause for the arrest, the defendant is freed from obligations surrounding his arrest, including conditions of bond.”