The State of Texas: December 4, 2014
Grimace Of The Day
What’s the most money you’ve completely blown in a single day? Whatever the answer, it’s almost certainly not as bad as one Dallas 27-year-old, who recently “crashed his $1.2 million McLaren P1, a 903-horsepower British hybrid supercar … less than 24 hours after he picked it up:”
A Sane Decision — Yesterday, with eight hours to go before the state executed Scott Panetti, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals halted the state’s actions. While outcry against the execution of the clearly mentally ill man came from all corners, at least one prominent Republican hedged his bets: Ted Cruz. In an irony-packed statement, the Senator from Texas distances himself from conservatives who called for the stay, saying, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me, as an elected official who does not currently have a role in the criminal justice system, to be getting involved in the adjudication of any particular case.” A stay was also submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, but that appeal will be put aside for now. “Because the [appeals court] order ‘isn’t a ruling on the merits of our claims, there’s nothing for the Supreme Court to overturn,’ the attorneys said in a statement,” according to the National Journal. “The Fifth Circuit may lift its stay following further consideration of the case, however.”
Immigration Challenge — President Barack Obama’s recently announced his immigration plan, which would let about 4.7 million people stay in the country without fear of deportation. Now, there are seventeen states that have joined together in suing the administration over the action. Texas, or more specifically, the state’s attorney general and federal lawsuit king, Greg Abbott, is spearheading the charge. The suit, filed Wednesday “at the Federal Court in the Southern District of Texas said the executive order announced by Obama last month violated constitutional limits on presidential powers,” reports the Chicago Tribune. The other states include “Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin,” writes Politico. As the New York Times notes in it write-up, those in favor of the plan, including Obama “and other senior officials have said that they have full legal authority for the new measures, which they said were authorized by existing statutes.” That said, “Legal experts are sharply divided over whether Mr. Obama has overstepped his constitutional bounds.”
What A Headache — Earlier this week, news that roughly 100 brains had gone missing from UT shocked the Internet like head trama. (Why all the fuss now is not exactly clear, since Alex Hannaford and photographer Adam Voorhes explored the case in their recent book Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital.) Regardless, old news is news again, and dozens of articles popped up to giddily discuss the “mystery.” Unfortunatley, the real story is less exciting than anything Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, or even Scooby Doo could come up with. Despite some UT professors speculating that “somebody may have taken the brains … swiping them for living rooms or Halloween pranks,” it turns out, the reality is far less exciting and macabre than the legend. “On Wednesday afternoon, after a day of much confusion, the university issued a statement that most of the 100 preserved brains that had “disappeared from the basement of the Animal Resources Center had been disposed of by the university’s environmental health and safety officials in 2002, under protocols for biological waste,” according to the New York Times. The best part is that now there’s conspiracy. As the piece notes, “Not everyone is convinced that the university’s explanation accounts for all the missing gray matter.” One person includes Malformed author Hannaford. “I don’t buy it,” he said to the Times. “These jars were designed to hold one brain, and I find it hard to believe that if 40 jars were disposed of, that accounted for all the brains.”
Space Farmer — Space X is looking for a Texas farmer. Not for growing space veggies. Rather, the company is reportedly looking for a regular, terrestrial farmer, and no one is quite sure why. Slate offers a fun little read on all the possible reasons, offering that “perhaps this is the company’s first step toward being able to grow apples in microgravity. … Or maybe there’s a more boring reason. Some have speculated that SpaceX could be seeking a tax benefit. Jessica Marie from the McLellan Country Appraisal District, of McLellan Country in which the facility is located, told me that the company could apply for an open space land special appraisal and a reduction in tax burden.” The story also notes that farmer and rocket scientist aren’t the only jobs SpaceX is advertising for at its Texas location. There’s also work as a barista and an intern.
Sick Stacks of Cash —Ridding a city of Ebola isn’t cheap. Robert Wilonsky at the Dallas Morning News has the figures, released by Dallas City Hall Wendesday, from this fall’s containment effort. All told, it costs the city (just the city, not the county or state) about “$155,000, give or take,” although “about $19,000 of that is being covered by grants and private donations.” Much of the price tag came from departments you’d expect to get money in such an emergency—fire and rescue, police, and, the most costly expense, $58,696.90 on Hazmat cleanup. The city also spent about $19,000 on caring for and quarantining Bentley, the dog of Ebola nurse Nina Pham. “The city hopes it doesn’t have to foot the entire bill. According to the release from Sana Syed, the city’s spokesperson, Dallas City Hall is ‘seeking reimbursement for some of these expenses from the state of Texas.”