Tweet of the Day
Here’s our retired president doin’ his retired president thing at a recent SMU practice. Nothing compares to being the leader of the free world, but Dubya could really use a hobby:
— Chad Morris (@coachchadmorris) August 26, 2015
Texas by the Numbers
Jobland — Midland’s unemployment rate: 3.3 percent. Rate of runner-up city for lowest unemployment in Texas, Amarillo: 3.4. Third place, Austin-Round Rock: 3.5 percent. The statewide rate: 4.2 percent.
Warning Bell — Number of days until Blue Bell ice cream will be available to a least some Texans: five. Number of returning flavors announced thus far: two. Number of cities where Texans will be able to get Blue Bell: three. Amount of anguish suffered because of a lack of Blue Bell: untold.
On Wednesday, Houston mourns the passing of James “Red” Duke, the “iconic, cowboy-style doctor who delivered homespun health advice on nationally syndicated television and founded the Life Flight helicopter ambulance system,” according to the Houston Chronicle. He also treated Governor John Connolly when President Kennedy was shot in Dallas. Check out the extensive obituary for an unbelievable look at all of Duke’s accomplishments.
Fight-town Race — Forget the track, its the fight between the Texas Racing Commission and the state legislature that you want to place bets on. On Tuesday, the TRC voted to keep operating what’s known as “historic racing”—blind bets of old horse races, as random as a slot machine, the Houston Chronicle reports. It’s a bold move, since the Legislature is pretty upset with the TRC for running the operation without approval, calling the commission a “rogue agency” and threatening to cut off its funding in the course of this year-long dispute. As the story notes, “Industry officials praised the vote, with the Sam Houston Race Park saying in a statement that it was ‘proud of the commission’s willingness to stand by the Texas horse and racing industries.'” No one’s quite sure what happens next. “Although the commission’s $7.7 million annual budget comes from licensing and fees paid by the racetracks, legislators still must appropriate that money,” writes the Texas Tribune. “If they don’t approve its budget before the commission’s money runs out on Sept. 1, both the commission and the tracks it regulates could be forced to shut down.”
Twin Updates — There are two basic tracks to follow in the ongoing case of the Waco Twin Peaks shooting: the criminal proceedings and the civil suits, and both had small developments yesterday. As might be expected, the courts are pushing ahead with prosecuting the 177 arrested. As part of the individual examination trials, “a visiting judge ruled Monday that authorities had sufficient probable cause to arrest a pistol-packing chaplain for the Bandidos motorcycle group,” reports the Waco Tribune-Herald. As the story notes, the judge’s ruling “mirrored one he made last week in the cases of husband-and-wife bikers.” As for the civil side, the Tribune also reports that two people who had been at Twin Peaks on the day of the shootings filed a lawsuit against the restaurant and its related companies, seeking damages for medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. “In defiance of repeated law enforcement warnings, Twin Peaks invited rival biker gangs to its Waco restaurant. . . . Predictably, these rival gangs—fueled by Twin Peaks alcohol—began fighting,” the lawsuit reads.
Grim Reaper — The rest of the country seems to be finally catching up to the story of Christopher Duntsch, whom the Texas Observer first reported on a year ago. The Dallas neurosurgeon is currently on trial, accused of “knowingly and recklessly” botching surgeries that killed at least one and harmed at least fifteen others. The latest details, the ones that seem to have captured the nation’s attention, come from an email he sent his girlfriend, which was introduced as evidence by prosecutors during a recent bond hearing. “I am ready to leave the love and kindness and goodness and patience that I mix with everything else that I am and become a cold blooded killer,” he allegedly wrote in December 2011. The email also includes such gems as: “What I am being is what I am, one of kind, a mother f***ing stone cold killer that can buy or own or steal or ruin or build whatever he wants.” According to the Associated Press, “Duntsch defense attorney Robbie McClung said Tuesday that the email from 2011 was submitted without any context, arguing that the tone is not clear and he may have been using sarcasm. She said authorities have not proved a criminal case.”
All Clear — The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas might have been one of the most colossal examples of shady politics and favoritism the state has seen in recent years, but at least one major player is getting away scot-free. On Tuesday a jury “found Jerry Cobbs not guilty of misleading his bosses at the [CPRIT] into awarding an $11 million grant to a Dallas biotech startup,” the Austin American-Statesman writes. “In a trial that began last week, prosecutors had sought to prove that Cobbs, the chief commercialization officer for the state agency, intentionally withheld information that the grant application of Peloton Therapeutics hadn’t undergone the mandated scientific and business reviews. His defense contended that Cobbs took the fall when inner rivalries and shortcomings within the organization erupted into a political firestorm.” Basically, no one is being punished for this business-as-usual affair. “When asked if he believed he had been made a scapegoat, Cobbs responded, ‘The simple answer is ‘sure.’”