The State of Texas: December 15, 2014
Quote of the Day
“Never paint your wife or your mother.”
— President George W. Bush on his current diplomatic efforts
Photos of the Day
Guns may be the great equalizer, but nothing looks more intimidating than a woman and her firearm. The Houston Chronicle has a fascinating profile of artist Shelley Calton, who’s spent the past three year photographing women and their guns. Definitely worth checking out.
Saturday was a special day, and not just because it was 12/13/14. For about two dozen couples, it was also the date of a mass Cowboy wedding, held at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Mazel Tov, y’all:
Not Yet — It’s not much of a comfort to same-sex couples in Texas hoping to get hitched, but at least nobody is experiencing any painful whiplash. On Friday, the same judge who ruled our state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in February, said any such marriages can’t happen until the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals makes its ruling. In a bit of foresight not seen among too many judges on this issue, “Garcia seemed to anticipate that the 5th Circuit would put the stay back in place in the Texas case if he lifted it,” wrote the San Antonio Express-News. “If lifted, he wrote, it would create a rush to courthouses of same-sex couples seeking to get married, only to see themselves in legal limbo should the stay be reimposed by the appeals court.” The very conservative Fifth Circuit will almost assuredly declare the ban constitutional, setting up a battle that will make its way to the Supreme Court.
Disclosing Surprise — Anti-death penalty advocates won the tiniest of battles late last week. The state has spent the past year defending, however shakily, its keeping of execution drug suppliers’s names secret. But finally, a judge Thursday “ordered Texas to release the name of the compounding pharmacy that provides the state its execution drug,” calling it a matter of public record, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Despite the ruling, most expect the drug dealers’s names won’t be released soon. “The Department of Criminal Justice plans to appeal,” with a department spokesman saying that “disclosing the identity of the pharmacy would result in the harassment of the business and would raise serious safety concerns for the business and its employees.” The case will now go to an appeals court, and it’s highly likely it’ll eventually be heard by the Texas Supreme Court.
Sympathy For The Devils — The Houston Chronicle has a deeply reported piece on one of the thorniest issues a civilized society is likely to ever see: protecting the rights of violent sex offenders. For fifteen years, Texas has had a probationary program in place meant to keep communities safe after those offenders completed their prison sentences. But “no one in the program’s nearly 15 years of operation has ever successfully completed the civil commitment program and been free,” writes the Chronicle. “Nearly half of the 350 men ordered into the program have been sent back to prison or jail for violations of program rules, some as simple as being late to treatment, court records show.” The “civil commitment program” is little more than an extended prison sentence beyond the traditional walls, which the Supreme Court has upheld “on grounds that the involuntary confinement is being used to administer treatment, not punishment.” But as the Chronicle investigation demonstrates, those in the program, particularly those with acute mental illnesses, “treatment” is a nonexistent at best, with the program meant to help them embroiled in constant controversy and poor management.
Presidential Mysterious — The rumors of Condoleezza Rice being in the running to be UT’s next president have been greatly exaggerated. At least, that’s according to university officials, trying to tamp down a story that appeared on Friday in the New York Post saying the former Secretary of State was the front-runner for University president. “According to a spokeswoman for the University of Texas System, there are no front-runners right now, because the Board of Regents aren’t at that point in the process. They also can’t confirm Rice is a candidate,” reports KXAN. “A well-placed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the [Austin American-Statesman] that Rice is not a candidate ‘at this time,’” nor is former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.
Just For Kicks — Houstonians love their sneakers. Maybe too much. “Police were called to quell unruly crowds after hundreds converged outside several Houston-area malls early Sunday morning in hopes of getting a ticket to buy pricey Nike Air Jordan sneakers being released next weekend,” reports the Chronicle. “Chaos reached a crescendo when a rock shattered a glass entrance door at the Willowbrook Mall and a teenage girl was zapped with a Taser outside The Woodlands Mall.” Apparently, this is not the first time the sneaker mob has run amok. “Similar incidents have happened in previous years as shoppers battled over buying these collectable shoes. The ticket system was designed to minimize crowd control problems within a mall and guarantee people could buy the right sizes.” For those who read the October story from Texas Monthly’s own Katy Vine on the Houston sneaker scene, the chaos shouldn’t be much of a surprise.