The State of Texas: February 10, 2015
Cringe of the Day
Surprise, surprise. A Texas Greek house is back in the news for its apparent lack of sensitivity. The Phi Gamma Delta house at the University of Texas has gotten some unpleasant attention for hosting a “border patrol” party that is as offensive as one might expect. The Sperry-wearing partiers apparently also donned “ponchos, sombreros, and construction gear while others wore military camouflage outfits near photo cutout boards of people in traditional Mexican garb,” according to the Houston Chronicle. Apparently the frat made a serious effort at being culturally sensitive. “We notified our chapter prior to the party via email that the theme was Western—not south of the border or anything Mexican related,” one bro told the UT paper, the Daily Texan. It’s certainly not the most offensive attempt, although insensitivity is in the eye of the beholder:
There Will Be Losses – Now that the oil bust is in full swing, the days will be filled with sad stories of failure and demise. Today is no different, with news that “more than two hundred drilling rigs were taken out of service in Texas in the past two weeks,” according to the Houston Business Journal. “There were 417 rigs operating in the Permian Basin last week, 103 fewer than just two weeks ago. … Looking back a year ago, when crude oil was selling at $100 a barrel, Texas had 845 rigs going compared to 654 operating now.” The Eagle Ford Shale, too, saw a drop of 58 rigs in the past two weeks. With the drop in rigs and money, pretty much everyone is ready for the economic reality of the situation. While the Midland–Odessa area had a great year, the pain is about to come. “Karr Ingham, the Amarillo economist who prepares the Midland–Odessa Regional Economic Indicators for the Midland Development Corp. and Security Bank, said that even if oil prices begin to recover immediately, the stage is still set for a deep contraction in the area’s oil and gas industry and this will find its way into the general economy,” according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.
Perry Controversial – Not one to back down from a fight or controversy, Rick Perry has waded into the mostly ridiculous vaccination “debate.” In a recent interview, Perry stressed that the number of vaccinated children increased significantly under his watch (while initially citing the wrong statistics). Perry’s support of vaccines “reflected a dramatic political shift from other Republican contenders quoted that week,” as the Texas Tribune put it. “I think governors, elected officials, people in positions of authority and power and influence should use those positions to make sure that the people they either represent or have the opportunity to work for are as healthy as they can be,” said Perry. But it also appears that Perry allowed anti-vaccine hysteria to inadvertently gain some advantages while he was in office. The Daily Beast has a interesting look at the effect of the 2003 Texas law that gave anti-vaxxers a huge opt-out alternative for reasons of “conscience” in addition to the existing religious exemption. “Subsequently, the number of children exempted from vaccinations rose from 2,314 in 2003 to 38,197 in 2014,” writes Olivia Nuzzi.
A Loud Effort – The future of Texas’s 67-acre, 159-year-old School for the Deaf is up in the air, with its location on a prime stretch of real estate in the heart of Austin. “Senators are seriously considering “the potential sale of a portion of the prime chunk of land,” writes the Austin Business Journal. “The idea was batted about as to whether the 159-year-old school would be better served by taking the proceeds from a sale of a portion of its property and supporting deaf education across the state, including the construction of a new campus. [Senator Kirk] Watson, knowing the likely reaction of Austinites, made sure to add a comment that the impact of the sale on the surrounding community ought to be studied.” As the Austin American-Statesman notes, it appears legislators will “proceed cautiously” with any such development suggestion.
Disney Villain – There’s an interesting criminal case involving Mickey Mouse that has cropped up in Dallas. Jurors heard opening statements on Monday in a fraud case “involving a North Texas man accused of duping investors with a phony story about a Walt Disney theme park coming to an area near Celina,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “Prosecutors say [Thomas W.] Lucas [Jr.] forged official-looking documents about ‘Frontier Disney’ that he showed to investors to trick them into buying vacant land in Denton and Collin counties. He brokered the deals and earned generous sales commissions, prosecutors say.” Lucas’s lawyer has said his client “had no involvement in what land to buy or how to wire money” and “had no intent to defraud anyone.” Prosecutors said this Disney-related story “does not end happily ever after.”