The State of Texas: December 21, 2015
SMU opts out of campus carry, Blue Bell looks toward the future, and San Antonio’s great pizza swindling.
True Fact of the Day
And with a final score of 21 to 14, Galena Park North Shore beat Austin’s Westlake during the 6A high school State Championship in Houston on Saturday. Only about eight more months until the next season begins!
Only in Texas will an attendance of roughly 30,000 people for a HS football game be looked at as a low number. #txhsfb
— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 20, 2015
Forever On Guard — So how long will the Texas National Guard remain at the border? The magic eight ball (and Governor Greg Abbott) says: ask again later. Last week, Abbott extended the mission of the National Guard thanks to another surge of unaccompanied minors streaming across the border. And while Abbott told reporters on Friday that “What we’re doing across the border is achieving great results,” it’s clearly not enough. “Abbott did not say how long the National Guard deployment would continue under his new order. Only that the state would respond to the situations on the border as they change,” the Dallas Morning News writes. Abbott’s statements came during the graduation ceremony for Texas State Troopers fresh recruits. And in case you’re curious, of the 3,700 applied this year, 142 were asked to try out, while 102 cadets made the final cut. Of those, 41 will be heading to the border to help put a stop to what seems to be unstoppable.
Gun Shy — Another week, another private university proving that schools really don’t think this whole having-guns-everywhere thing is a good idea. “In a statement, SMU President R. Gerald Turner said the campus will remain weapon-free. Turner said university feedback was ‘overwhelmingly in favor’ of continuing to ban guns,” according to the Texas Tribune. SMU joins a growing list of private universities that have opted out of the campus carry law set to go into effect in August, which includes TCU, Rice University, and likely Baylor. As for the impending, non-college open carry law, be sure to read Doyin Oyeniyi’s recent look at how law enforcement is preparing for a whole wave of citizens being armed to the teeth. Law enforcement had fought pretty hard against the measure when it was in the Lege (like, how many public institutions does it take to stop nearly universally disliked legislation?) and “one of the biggest concerns of law enforcement is establishing the fine line between respecting the rights of someone legally carrying a handgun and protecting the general public.”
Cautious Bells — Now that people have stopped dying because of tainted products, and Texas Monthly has issued its Bum Steer of the Year, Blue Bell is continuing to work its way toward redemption. “Ironically, Blue Bell’s food-poisoning crisis could give it a one-up on competitors, because it already has been forced to make expensive changes to equipment and safety protocols that other ice cream makers soon will have to emulate under new federal regulations. It took most of the year to upgrade while other brands gobbled up market share,” writes the Houston Chronicle in its look at Blue Bell’s come-back tour. The story is either grim or full of dark humor, depending on your take. Examining the company through the efforts of second-generation CEO Paul Kruse, the Chronicle refers to the time when listeria was just becoming a thing— before food poisoning outbreaks, before Jack in the Box made kids sick—as “halcyon days.” The story is a look at how Blue Blue, slow and steady, has dominated its market, and offers a measured insight into what the company hopes to do once it fully recovers. The question now is “whether its bucolic values will remain part of its future as it now produces ice cream under the most sophisticated hazard controls in the industry.”
Fast Food and the Furious — Do you want to read more than 3,000 words about the great pizza swindle happening in San Antonio? Then, oh boy, does the Express-News have a story for you. The paper takes a deep dive into the practice of local restaurants slipping into hotels and offering seemingly great deals on pizza fare. The only problem is that these restaurants are about the worst of the worst. “Customers complain of pizzas that are burnt, cold, soggy, stale, uncooked, covered with hair. Chicken wings that are cold and pink inside. Salads with dirt on the lettuce. The orders often show up late or incorrect, and employees are rude, customers say.” Apparently, these operations are more like pizza conmen, changing numbers and locations, and impossible to stop.”The businesses disguise themselves by rotating through names and phone numbers with the help of disposable phones, Police Chief William McManus said in an interview. The scheme, which hits hotels all over the city, tends to flare up during tourist seasons, such as Spring Break, summer and the Christmas holiday. In some cases, police have been unable to find storefronts for the businesses.” It seems the city-wide scheme has a genesis by way of a man “who opened a string of pizza joints [in 1980].” The wonderful story (there’s even a scheme chart!) goes into great detail regarding these restaurants’ health code violations and their evasive tactics—one shop has changed its name six times in seven years. It’s a fantastic read if you don’t mind not eating pizza in San Antonio maybe ever again.