The State of Texas: December 16, 2015
Houston’s coach gets grilled, the immigration fight gets tough, and the affluenza kid and his mother are missing.
What you see below is a video of Houston University football coach Tom Herman getting fitted for a flashy grill by none other than the city’s preeminent white boi Paul Wall. Apparently, promising players that you’ll shave your head is passé now.
— Joseph Duarte (@Joseph_Duarte) December 15, 2015
Texas By the Numbers
Progress Report — Number of public schools in Texas: 8,500+. Number of those schools failing, or with serious troubles according to new TEA list: 1,532. That number last year: 1,199. Before that: 892. City with highest number of failing schools: Dallas. Number of Dallas schools: 91. Previous year: 71.
Lowercase Punishment — Number of people sentenced to death in Texas this year: three. Last year: 11. Number of people sentenced to death this year by state’s three most populous counties: 0. Last time that happened: 1976.
Resurgence — Here’s hoping the Texas National Guard has enjoyed its time at the border so far, because it’s going to be staying a while. On Tuesday, Governor Abbott ordered them to “remain at the Mexico border, extending again a mission that began in 2014 when unaccompanied children started pouring into the country and that will continue amid another wave of arrivals,” writes the Austin American-Statesman. “Neither Abbott nor the Texas National Guard would say when troops would now go home. Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Travis Walters also wouldn’t disclose how many troops would remain, but said no new troops would be deployed.” Blame a fresh surge of unaccompanied minors on the extension: a whopping 10,000 children crossed the border in October and November, double the number from the same time in 2014. Clearly, previous efforts aren’t working. That explains why the Lege is now looking at ways to beef up state laws concerning border crossers and illegal immigrants. “During a House State Affairs committee hearing last week on border security and immigration, Texas Deputy Attorney General Brantley Starr told lawmakers they have more options than they might think to flex state legal muscle in the traditionally federal realm of immigration enforcement,” according to the Texas Tribune, which details what officials say is working and ways they plan to crackdown, including legislation against “sanctuary cities.” The federal government isn’t standing idly by, either. The Monitor reports on a Monday border visit in McAllen by United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske, who offered some very inspirational words. “The numbers have been increasing, and it’s certainly of concern to me and to the rest of the Department of Homeland Security.”
Charley Horse — If you like to gamble, there’s no bet more high-stakes and more volatile than the future of horse racing in Texas. Following months of back and forth between the Texas Racing Commission and the state Legislature over what amounts to a petty turf war, the TRC declined to “repeal its earlier authorization of historical racing, a move that could mean a statewide shutdown for the entire horse racing industry in February,” according to the Tribune. The vote was split four to four, despite the state’s efforts to rig the game. “Commission chairman Rolando Pablos, whom Gov. Greg Abbott appointed to the board last week after former chair Robert Schmidt stepped down from the leadership role, made clear during the meeting that he was in favor of a repeal. After the vote, he said the commission might as well begin taking steps to shut itself down.” For those in the industry, the battle is a stressful one. While the figures are dwindling, horse and dog racing pulled in about $438 million last year. Historic racing, blind bets on previous events, is thought to be a way to help the industry, while Legislators and other interested gambling parties, like bingo lobbyists, would prefer they have the final say over what is allowed.
On The Run — As could have probably been predicted, the flabbergastingly lenient punishment for the privileged “affluenza” teen who drunkenly killed four people isn’t really sticking. A warrant has been issued and “police have been ordered to detain Ethan Couch” who has disappeared with his mother reports NBC DFW. The fresh attention by authorities could have something to do with the fact that “earlier this month, a six-second video posted on Twitter showed young men playing beer pong. The person who posted the tweet accused Couch of violating his probation, which prohibits Couch from driving and using drugs or alcohol.” Couch’s attorney had famously said the teen’s lack of parental supervision and an upbringing so privileged he was unable to distinguish between right and wrong. The warrant was issued “because his parole officer has been unable to reach him or his mother.” It seems they really are missing, as the news of the warrant came from the family’s lawyers themselves, who don’t indicate whether they know anything. “We have recently learned for last several days the juvenile probation officer has been unable to make contact with Ethan or his mother … It’s our understanding that the court has issued a directive to apprehend to have Ethan detained (sic) … We do not have any further information concerning this situation.”
Bad Romance — Speaking of poor decisions with motor vehicles, more details have emerged in the story of the betrothed couple whose announcement went viral yesterday because the groom-to-be and his friends stopped traffic on I-45 so he could propose. Turns out, pulling such a “romantic” gesture might be a crime! Charges have been filed against the man for obstructing a highway, a class B misdemeanor, according to KHOU. Meanwhile, the Houston Press did a little digging and found the roadside lover has been divorced from his first wife for a whole six months, after a two-year marriage in which the couple was together for eight months. Perhaps this seems like its piling on, but as the Houston Press so perfectly notes, the man’s performance—complete with a team of friends and family wielding cameras — included “an audience of unwitting drivers whose lives came to a grinding halt after smashing into this wall of malignant narcissism.” To the man’s credit, he’s aware of his oops. “I’m feeling bad, and of course,” he told ABC 13 “I’m wanting to apologize to everyone if I caused any problems. That wasn’t my intention in the beginning. I just wanted to do something different.” Just an ill-conceived decision!