The State of Texas: December 11, 2014
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Unless you’re on Twitter, then chances are it’s just for mockery. And that’s exactly what’s happening to the recently renamed Austin PR firm who made headlines for its ill-advised name. Strange Fruit changed their name to the innocuous Perennial PR, which has inspired a fake Twitter account gently mocking the firm as a racially tone-deaf klutz company.
— Perennial PR (@PerennialPR) December 11, 2014
Held Back — It’s going to be harder for governor-elect Greg Abbott to expand pre-K education, as was his campaign promise. The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday that eighteen states would receive a portion of $250 million in federal funding, and Texas—along with about seventeen other states—didn’t make the cut. The state “applied to receive up to $30 million,” reports the Austin American-Statesman, but was denied because “Reviewers of Texas’ grant application gave the state low marks on a variety of factors, including plans for how the programs will be implemented.” Of those factors, the Texas Tribune highlights the fact that our “high class-size ratio — twice the recommended 10-to-1 child to instructional staff ratio—was among the areas federal reviewers dinged when examining the state’s application.” Perhaps we’ll have better luck with the older kids. “Texas Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes outlined a proposal to increase base funding for public colleges and universities by $1.1 billion on Tuesday,” according to the Statesman. “In addition to seeking a 13.7 percent increase in base funding for those institutions, the coordinating board is pushing for a sizable boost in student financial aid.” The board doesn’t just want the money for nothing, either. The board “also wants some funding for universities to hinge on how well they perform on various metrics.” So if you thought those end-of-semester exams were hard now …
Less Affluent — That “affluenza” case heard ‘round the country did not sit well with anyone, lawmakers included. The case started when a Fort Worth sixteen-year-old killed four people during a car accident, and was only sentenced to probation, a lenient judgement based in part on testimony that he suffered from affluenza, or, being too privileged to understand the basic elements of right and wrong. Now, state lawmakers want to make sure no ones can ever make the defense again. “In part, the bill reads a court may not consider whether ‘the defendant did not understand the consequences of the defendant’s actions because the defendant was raised in a household that was overly permissive due to affluent circumstances,’” according to WOAI. If the legality of banning a particular defense seems a bit suspect, you’d be right. Crazy California tried to ban the same defense shortly after our affluenza news broke with a similar bill. But “opponents of the bill, though sympathetic to its intent, argued that it’s generally not a good idea to put limitations on legal defenses,” reported Time magazine. Like a lot nutty bills introduced by the legislature, this one probably won’t get very far when the session finally rolls around. Although, if lawmakers really wanted to make a difference, providing more legal support and aid for the underprivileged is a totally legit goal.
The Drinking Games — Craft beer lovers know a lot about yeast and grains, but they’re well-versed in lawsuits and litigation. “Three Texas breweries filed a lawsuit against the state on Wednesday seeking to to overturn a 2013 law they say violates the Texas Constitution by forcing them to give away their territorial distribution rights for free,” reports the Texas Tribune. “Prior to 2013, craft brewers could negotiate payment from distributors for the exclusive rights to deliver their beverages in a certain area. But the law, authored by state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, prohibited the sale of these territorial rights.” The brewers say the law is “in violation of the state’s constitution, which says that a person’s property can not be taken without consent unless it is for use by the public or an entity granted the power of eminent domain.” The law also reeks not of delicious hops, but of money. As WFAA notes, “Over a recent four-year period, records show beer distributors gave $7 million in political donations while draft brewers gave $17,000.” In fact, a lobby watchdog’s data shows that between 2009 and 2012, Corona came in at number ten in contributions from alcohol distrubtors. Not that Corona’s beyond just plain-bad legislation. Last year, he made Texas Monthly’s list of the worst legislators. You can’t get much worse than stiffling our god-given right to good beer.
Nightmare Before Christmas — Chronicling the demise of RadioShack is like watching that crappy toaster slowly fritz out. “RadioShack’s reported a wider third-quarter loss on Thursday and said it is cutting costs by $400 million through staff cuts and store closings,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “So far this year, RadioShack said it closed 175 stores and its ability to close more than 200 stores a year has been vetoed by its lender.” So apparently that big Christmas push with the Weird Al Yankovic ad hasn’t quite panned out. “RadioShack reported a loss of $161.1 million, or $1.58 a share, in the period ended Nov. 1, compared with a loss of $135.9 million, or $1.35 a share, a year ago.” Pretty much everyone is wondering when the inevitable will happen, even the top bosses. “For the second consecutive quarter, RadioShack mentioned the possibility of a bankruptcy court filing in its future.”