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The State of Texas: August 20, 2014

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Images of the Day

Governor Rick Perry went to the Travis County courthouse yesterday to be officially booked, and the resulting picture hit the Internet like a confetti bomb, becoming something of a meme in mere seconds. By the end of the day, even Wired magazine was having fun with photoshop. The mugshot wasn’t the only picture to emerge from Perry’s jailhouse visit. Plenty of journalists selfied twitpics while waiting for Perry at the courthouse, and the coolest of such photos was this panaroamic from KXAN photojournalist Alex Penrose. Need all the Perry jailhouse photos you can get your hands on? The Amarillo Globe-News was thoughtful enough to put together a slideshow, including a tongue-waving Perry and a kissy-face Perry. And for proof that Perry is pretty much in on the joke, the governor tweeted out a photo of himself and his legal dream-team eating ice cream at Sandy’s after his booking, which is exactly what you do after being released from the county jail. Perhaps the only downside to the event is the fact Perry has been officially stripped of his conceal handgun carry license (h/t @AmanBatheja). But at least we still have this picture.

Hobby Wednesday

Some judges spend their off-hours golfin’ or huntin’ or Tweetin’. Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Boyd has an absolutley adorable hobby: taking pictures in front of the state’s county courthouses. All 254 of them. As he makes pretty clear in his interview with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Judge Boyd really likes courthouses and local history. “In San Antonio stands the majestic Bexar County courthouse. I spent more time in there than any other courthouse during my first three years as a baby lawyer.”

Texas By The Numbers

Reckless Driving — Number of uninsured Texas drivers: about 2.5 million. As a portion of the driving population: 14 percent. In 2012: 13.07 percent. Percentage of Dallas County drivers without insurance: 16.6 percent. Dallas County’s uninsured rank among biggest urban counties: number one. Amount Texas spends a year on coverage for the uninsured: $1 billion.

World-Class Education — UT’s ranking amongst the best colleges in the world: 39th. In the nation: 28th. Rice University: 82nd. In the nation: 42nd. Texas A&M: 98th. In the nation: 51st. UT Southwestern: 46th. In the nation: 31st.

Border Decline — Number of migrant border crossings in June: 38,422. In July: 24,941. Unaccompanied minors apprehended in June: 16,330. In July: 7,410.

Daily Roundup

Moody Blues — Just how massive were the effects of the House’s recent decision to censure UT Regent Wallace Hall? Well, Moody’s, the biggest name in the bond credit rating world, has declared the whole scandal a “credit negative” for the university, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The strained relationship among system board members, the system chancellor, and the long-serving president of its flagship university creates reputational challenges that are likely to hamper the system’s ability to attract and retain high-quality executives and faculty and deter some donors,” declared Moody’s. It’s only a warning, but, as one might expect, UT took umbrage with the assessment. “We strongly disagree with the characterization that governance struggles have hampered the Board’s ability to implement key initiatives and that the UT System lacks a unified strategic direction,” said UT System Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster and Regent Jeffrey Hildebrand in a statement. The regents also seemed pretty upset that the “credit negative” came a day before Livestrong dropped a $50 million check on the university. Because nothing says “credit positive” and “reputational clarity” like money and backing from Lance Armstrong.

Let’s (Not) Be Cops — The “affluenza” family is back in the news. The father of the sixteen-year-old, who made headlines earlier this year for suffering from “affluenza,” was arrested by the North Richland Hills Police Department “for impersonating a police officer,” according to the Dallas Mornings News. “In a media release, police say that officers responded to a disturbance call at a house on the 4400 block of Mackey Drive. Fred Couch, police say, was already on the scene and identifying himself as a reserve officer in Lakeside, a small Tarrant County town on Lake Worth.” Couch is not a member of any Texas police force, but he apparently had some documentation in his wallet stating otherwise. It wasn’t until police investigated later that they discovered the truth. Not that Couch is unfamiliar with police. As an old Daily Mail piece notes, Couch Senior “has been arrested for alleged crimes including theft, evading arrest and an alleged assault against Mrs Couch.”

Bad Marriage — Perhaps it’s because August has been a slow news month or the fact that Carollton is normally pretty pleasant, but the news of one man’s guilty verdict yesterday has made it to the homepage of numerous state publications. “After only two hours of deliberation, a Denton County jury on Tuesday unanimously found John Franklin Howard guilty of hiring someone to try and kill his wife in 2012,” according to NBCDFW. The news seems fairly mundane, including the fact that Howard was allegedly trying to cover up an affair he was having. The one intsy-winsy detail that maybe should’ve been mentioned in the first sentence is Howard’s apparent inability to efficiently complete his task: “The prosecution said Howard had been paying about a dozen people to kill his now ex-wife Nancy Howard over a three-year period starting in 2009.” On a somber note, his wife suffered serious and permanent injuries. “In August 2012 when Nancy Franklin was shot in the driveway … [the] jury saw graphic images of Nancy Franklin’s wounded face … She eventually lost one eye and suffered brain damage from the injury.”

Tax-Free Ormy — Wanna buy a big piece of land? Move to Von Ormy. The town, incorporated just six years ago, is getting rid of its property tax. For a town where “city offices are in a mobile home and council meetings are held in a church, where the city also operates a municipal court” the move seems a tad quick, not that anyone really needs to establish a town square these days. Von Ormy does, however, seem to be leaning pretty hard on what is, historically, less-than-stable income. It’s getting ride of the property tax “now that sales tax revenue is soaring from businesses along Interstate 35,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Here’s hoping they get a brick-and-mortar city hall before business along I-35 travels to another spot.

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Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet Texas Monthly and Jeff Winkler

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