Texas is having a great little mural moment. There’s Willie (finally) in Austin. And just on the heels of the pope’s visit to Juarez, a very trolly piece depicting His Holiness basically as the devil with the tag “Welcome to Hell Paso.” Some people don’t have much of a sense of humor about it, but El Paso artist Justin Rojas showed that the city is just as hip and irreverent as other Texas cities.
— El Paso Top News (@ElPasoTopNews) February 19, 2016
Blackest Night — Could things get any worse for Crystal City after its mayor and most of its leadership were arrested by the FBI on various corruption charges? The answer is yes. As if terrible and incompetent leaders weren’t hard enough for the citizens to swallow, now their water is turning black. Volunteers have been handing out water to residents after the town’s water supply was “contaminated when city workers flushed out the city’s elevated tower this week, sending black water coursing through residential pipes,” reports the San Antonio Express-News. Oh, then there’s the news on Friday that “the Texas Education Agency announced that Crystal City Independent School District’s accreditation is at risk after the district failed to meet state academic standards for third year in a row.” The latest headache has once again attracted the attention of national media like Huffington Post, CNN, and Gawker. But as the Express-News notes, however, the citizens have spirits that seem incapable of being broken despite leaders that have failed them. “I pray everyday we get a miracle from somewhere,” said the city tax collector. “We’ll conquer this.” Said another citizen, “We’re trying to have faith, that’s all we can do.” Stay strong, Crystal City! It’s always darkest before the dawn.
Water Wars — Score (another) one for ranchers and farmers in the state’s long-boiling fight over water. “Denying a state petition for review, the [Texas Supreme Court] left in place a lower court’s ruling that said Texas cannot give special treatment to cities or power generators over more ‘senior’ water rights holders on parched rivers — even if the state declares it necessary to protect the “public health, safety and welfare,” reports the Texas Tribune. “That means some cities, power generators or others with more ‘junior’ river rights would need to pay up or go thirsty when severe drought strikes. As the story notes, Texas is finally (finally!) not suffering a drought, but this issue could/will get serious if/when there’s another water shortage. To be clear, the “ranchers” and “farmers” that this ruling favors, don’t exactly fit your down-home expectations. After all, it was the Dow Chemical company that initiated the court case in the first place. The piece offers a great primer to the fight that’ll surely bubble up again.
Texas Politickin’ — Great news for democracy and everyone who can’t find anyone who in the 2016 circus who is worthy of being president: There are other options! The Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers this fine reminder by name-dropping the “other” candidates on the primary ballot (voting happens on March 1). For Democrats, there are “Texans Calvis L. Hawes of Hawkins, Keith Judd of Midland and Star Locke of Port Aransas,” and “Republicans have Texan Elizabeth Gray of Taylor.” Unfortunately, the story doesn’t actually try talking to these unsung heroes, but rather quotes a lot of political scientists who provide somewhat meaningless filler about how this is proof that democracy works, despite all the high-profile candidates who may be evidence that it doesn’t. And speaking of the well-known candidates, former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has given his endorsement to Marco Rubio. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that he didn’t endorse Ted Cruz, seeing as he endorsed Cruz’s challenger, David Dewhurst during the 2012 election. Patterson said that electability “was the deciding factor,” reports the Dallas Morning News. And it’s Rubio, Patterson believes, “Who will win in November against a Democrat.” Probably one of the most level-headed and independent-minded politicians in recent Texas politics, Patterson didn’t hold back on Trump, calling him “the asshole of assholes,” as reporter Aman Batheja noted.