Texas Turnout — Tuesday is the day of reckoning for all Republican presidential candidates not named Donald Trump. Before Trump threw the entire Republican party into panic, homeboy Ted Cruz was pretty much expected to have an easy win in Texas. Now? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. One poll shows Cruz up by 13 points, while another has him neck-and-orange-neck with Trump. Cruz has already checked off the important candidate to-dos, such as endorsements from both the governor and lieutenant governor. He’s not taking any chances though. Cruz is visiting Texas Monday, though as the Texas Tribune notes, it’s his wife that seems to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting on the home front. “In the Lone Star State, Heidi Cruz’s mission appears to be not so much changing minds as keeping them from changing,” writes the Tribune. “As a surrogate, Heidi Cruz is no attack dog. But at gatherings Sunday [in The Woodlands] and in Nacogdoches, she nodded to many of the defining contrasts between Cruz and Trump, alluding to her husband’s opponent as someone who has recently changed his mind on ‘every single’ view he held 60 years ago.” More than one publication has quoted Ted Cruz as saying that Texas is the “crown jewel” of Super Tuesday, and it seems that national papers like the Washington Post are turning their spotlight on the state, and for the far less interesting Democrat race, no less. Bernie Sanders stopped in what is likely the only town that would like to see him, Austin, over the weekend. Although the rally attracted a thousand-and-change, it’s unlikely to do anything, seeing as Hillary Clinton has a 61-to-37 percent lead over Sanders. After Tuesday, the future of U.S. politics could come into much sharper focus, so enjoy this imaginary day (it’s a leap year!) while you can.
Benched at Birth — It seems that public school athletes will have little flexibility in how gender is determined. “Public-school superintendents in Texas have overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the University Interscholastic League’s constitution that will require the league to use a birth certificate in determining questions about a student-athlete’s gender,” writes the Dallas Morning News. “A referendum ballot submitted to the state’s superintendents in January found 95 percent in favor of the proposal (586-32, with 2 non-responses).” The decision still needs final approval from the state education commissioner, but that’s expected to pass with flying colors (if not rainbow ones). In all fairness, the fluidity of gender is something the entire country is still coming to understand, so leaving it up to Texas educators seems hasty. That said, advocates called the decision a “horrible policy,” and the new rule would “force transgender students to amend their birth certificate, a laborious and potentially costly process, in order to play.” As the Tribune noted, “Many states are moving in the opposite direction of Texas, with more than a dozen having adopted policies in recent years that allow transgender student-athletes to participate in sports based on their gender identity — not the gender on their birth certificates. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a similar policy.”
Seen But Not Heard — As any student picked on in school will tell you, hiding in your locker won’t solve any bully problems. Someone should probably tell that to Irving ISD, which would really, really prefer to keep things quiet. The school district is suing the Texas Attorney General’s Office, “defying an order to reveal details of a federal investigation related” to Ahmed “Clockboy” Mohamed’s arrest, writes the Morning News. “Among other reasons for keeping the investigation’s details secret, the district has argued that it expects to be sued, citing a demand from Ahmed’s lawyer to pay millions or face a civil rights trial. But the Attorney General’s office rejected those concerns this month and ordered Irving ISD to make the investigation letter public.” The story notes that suing the AG’s office is a “rare step,” which sets up the possibility of a “trial that could take months to resolve.” The school district really deserves no leniency for running one of the most punitive districts in all of Texas, making adolescent years all the more painful, if not scaring students off to another country entirely.
Uh-oh, Bingo — First they came for horse racing, which is fine for now, but now it’s bingo that is being targeted by the state. “Over the past year and a half, the Texas Lottery Commission, which regulates bingo, has quietly moved to pull the gaming licenses of just under a dozen charities that were consistently losing money sponsoring bingo,” according to a widely circulated story by the Austin American-Statesman. “The number is relatively small — more than 600 organizations sponsored bingo last year. And the game still earns many charities tens of thousands of dollars each to donate to good works annually. Yet it also appears to be the first time that Texas regulators have forced nonprofits out of the game for failing to earn money.” The story is a super interesting, and a kinda odd look at both the history of charitable bingo in Texas as well as regulation of what seems like the most harmless form of gambling since a childhood dare. Interestingly, the industry has seen a decrease in participation and distribution of charitable funds, even though its gross receipts have increased. The reason is that bingos have offered more of the pot to winner in an effort to attract players. And because of all the regulation and taxing of this least sinful of vices, “Texas bingo in 2013 officially became more valuable to the tax collectors than the nonprofits it was intended to benefit.” The whole article is worth a read.
Texas: Civil War (Part 2) — This taco war between San Antonio and Austin is lasting longer than a Ken Burns documentary. In the latest salvo, the mayors of the two cities are now getting involved. Cheeky or not, Austin’s mayor is basically acting like how you’d expect an Austinite to react (and have reacted), which is to say, like a joshing, yet entitled, pile of guac. Speaking before more than a thousand student volunteers on Saturday, Steve Adler officially declared war on San Antonio. “I see our army in a war against San Antonio. As your commander in chief for the Breakfast Taco War, it is my solemn duty to inform you that after you have selflessly given of yourselves, I will be drafting you into the Great Breakfast Taco War of 2016,” according to the Statesman. San Antonio, which, like its tacos, didn’t previously stoop to Austin’s level, took the bait. “OK, Mayor Adler and all you longhorn-loving, live-music-listening, boardwalk-running Austinites, I and all the taco-making, taco-eating, taco-reigning San Antonians will take your challenge and raise you one machacado con huevo taco on a flour tortilla recien hecha (freshly made) con salsa verde. #original512,” Mayor Taylor Ivy said, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “Let’s finally end this taco-versy with a taste-off. I’ll bring some of our favorite tacos and you bring yours.” As stupid as it is for Austin to have any claim to tacos, maybe this little fight is good for the state’s taco morale in general. It’s certainly far more accessible and egalitarian than state’s most pretentious snobs, i.e. the barbecue ones.