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The State of Texas: December 17, 2015

Sid Miller’s people are doing quite well this year, and Spurs fans shared maybe the most awkward kiss cam experience ever.

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Awkward of the Day

Via the San Antonio Express-News, these Spurs fans are the embodiment of why mistletoe season is incredibly awkward.

 

Daily Roundup

A Very Miller Christmas — If you work for Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, you had a very good year indeed. But is that nice or naughty? The Houston Chronicle has a pretty fascinating look at the bonuses Miller has given out since becoming the commish, and it looks pretty suspect on paper. “Miller doled out $413,700 in one-time cash rewards to 144 employees between January and September – the most of any statewide elected official in that time, and more than the total given by Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Comptroller Glenn Hegar combined, according to a Houston Chronicle data analysis.” Cronyism is rampant in every department, but how do those numbers compare to previous ag commissioners? “Miller’s predecessor, Todd Staples, gave $161,800 in bonuses during his first nine months and $369,300 overall in his first 2½ years.” It’s one thing to give out deserving rewards, but the public might that they deserve a little piece of the pie. As the story notes, “Like all agency heads, Miller has discretion to award bonuses out of his general budget, meaning the money could have been used to reduce the fee increases, which are set to take effect Jan. 1.” Although his office released a statement, Miller declined to be interviewed. Perhaps if the reporters had wished him “happy holiday,” they’d have gotten a story. As the Houston Chronicle‘s Lauren McGaughy pointed out on Twitter, Miller has some very serious thoughts about the holiday season. “If one more person says Happy Holidays to me I just might slap them. Either tell me Merry Christmas or just don’t say anything,” he wrote on Facebook.

Some Dam Assurance — Following a very stilted formal notice from city officials that wasn’t exactly reassuring, the Army Corps of Engineers is now pushing back against a Dallas Morning News report that said seepage problems at the Lewisville dam were basically going to result in an imminent catastrophe. In its pushback, the Corps said that “despite unusual seepage and a huge slide of material during the record spring storms … the basic structure did its job. And that as long as repairs and maintenance continue, the dam should remain sound — absent utterly unprecedented rainfall,” according to the DMN’s follow-up. Maybe the scare story is enough just to see fixes, as the Corps said it “will probably recommend long-term fixes next year costing $50 million to $500 million, depending on which method or methods are chosen.” In addition, the Corps further explains exactly what official risk levels mean. The Lewisville dam is currently categorized as a level 2 risk (1 is the highest). The original story really amped up the fear factor, but officials say the risk assessment includes numerous factors, and “in the case of Lewisville Dam, failure is considered unlikely, but the consequences could be enormous and terrible. That bumps up the risk level.”

Most Wanted — The story of Ethan Couch, the now-infamous “affluenza” teen who was given probation after recklessly killing four people, has taken an intriguing turn. As reported earlier this week, probation officials were unable to contact Couch or his mother, and the family lawyers seemed to indicate they had no idea where their clients had gone. The check-in may have had something to do with a video released online that may have shown Couch enjoying himself a bit too much with friends (he’s not allowed to drink alcohol, apart from the obviousness of being underage). Authorities are now very concerned that the Couches have fled. One story suggests they may have left the country but doesn’t offer any quotes or reports to that nature. That said, authorities have had enough. “Any mess-ups from now on, he’s going to be over with us,” a spokesman for the Tarrant County sheriff’s office told the DMN. “He’s going to see what the big-boy jail is like.” Prosecutors have requested the case be moved to the adult system, as he was previously charged as a juvenile. Then again, they have to find him first, which the local DA’s office admitted that that may be difficult considering “the wealth and the wherewithal that his family has.”

Clickity Bits

Texas Gives to Paris After Attacks with Donation of Police Dog

More Evidence Dallas Earthquakes Are Made-Created

Things Just Aren’t Going Well For Houston’s Roadside Romeo

San Antonio to Media: You Can Get Public Records … for $81,000

Dashcam Video of Hatchet-Wielding UNT Student’s Death Released

Did we miss something? Got a hot tip? Email us at [email protected]. Or tweet @TexasMonthly and @ThatWinkler.

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