The State of Texas: February 6, 2015
In case you had a vague concern about all those anti-vaccine folks threatening the lives of children, the Texas Tribune now has some empirical data for your panic. A new interactive feature allows you to type in any public school district or private school to see how many of those kids are measles magnets. The truest finding of all that data collection: trust no parent.
Perry Power – Boy, Rick Perry left Texas government just in time. While many of the state leaders seem totally fine with changing the centuries-old open carry laws, Perry has come out with a rather uppopular opinion for a Texas Republican. In an interview, Perry said he was “’not necessarily all that fond of this open carry concept,’ adding that those who carry guns ought to be “appropriately backgrounded, appropriately vetted, appropriately trained,’” according to the Texas Tribune. Perry might be not be arming himself to the teeth, but that doesn’t mean he’s not traveling without a posse. Perry announced the names of his political action committee’s “advisory board,” a group of eighty people who are “champions of conservative principles,” reports the Houston Chronicle. In reality, notes the story, the group of “heavy-hitting Republican donors” will mainly focus on such philosophical questions as “how can we raise a whole pile of money?” And keep in mind, this is just all theoretical. Perry “has said he plans to announce whether he is running in May or June.”
Naked Ambition – Mayoral races can be a rather dull affair. In San Antonio, however, it’s about to get downright naughty. In case you missed it, the San Antonio Express-News has a wild look at the most unlikely mayoral candidate: Pogo Mochello Allen-Reese, A.K.A. “Patriot Prancer” in male stripper circles. “A Louisiana native, Allen-Reese, 43, danced in Baton Rouge clubs in the early ’90s — shortly after completing his military stint in the Persian Gulf War — and his Facebook page boasts an old photo of him in full Magic Mike mode, wearing only a black Speedo adorned with gold stars, with a yellow tassel dangling over his private bits,” writes the Express-News. What’s more, Allen-Reese’s proposed cabinet would include “bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman — an eight-time Mr. Olympia from Allen-Reese’s hometown of Monroe, Louisiana — to San Antonio to serve as assistant police chief.” This isn’t Allen-Reese’s first political rodeo either. He “filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president on Jan. 21, 2014, and he’s based his lone-wolf campaign around around three Gs: ‘God, guns, gold,’” adding that he’s running for mayor as sort of a stepping stone for a presidential run.
Flawed – Federal investigators looking into the Houston-area DuPont chemical plant accident that killed four workers have announced that the deadly chemical leak “can be traced to the design of a network of pipes and valves inside the facility,” according to the Associated Press. “The DuPont chemical plant in LaPorte, Texas, had a faulty ventilation system that exposed workers to a highly toxic and flammable chemical typically used in insecticides, officials from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said. … Board Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso said that even if ventilation system fans had been working, the building’s design may not have protected workers from the chemical being released into the air.” What this finding means is not entirely clear since the safety board has “no regulatory authority.” DuPont did say in a statement that they “appreciated the opportunity to engage in constructive discussions with the agency,” whatever that means.
The Cost of Solitary – It looks like solitary confinement isn’t just taxing on the individual human psyche, but on the community as a whole. A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project of Houston called solitary a “costly failure,” according to the Houston Chronicle. The report “said the practice is dangerous because more than 1,200 prisoners have been returned to the community with no treatment after spending years in isolation. In addition, the study contends the Texas Department of Criminal Justice keeps many prisoners in solitary confinement ‘who could be safely confined in a lower security setting’ and needlessly spends taxpayer money for high-level security that is unneeded and for medical costs that could be avoided.” As the story notes, “ about 4.4 percent of the prison system’s 150,000 convicts are in solitary confinement” although prison officials say the use of solitary has dropped 25 percent in the past few years.
The Best Little Horror Show In Texas – Good news for anyone who likes cheesy, grotesque displays of Southern and/or redneck culture! “Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical will make its world premiere at Dallas Theater Center in September and its Grammy Award-nominated co-composer said it will be centered on a love story and feature all new characters,” according to the Associated Press. The new Hee Haw will be set in present day, since that makes since for a show that was already an antiquated stereotype of country culture. On the (possible) bright side, this Hee Haw is “definitely in on the joke” said its creator. “What we’re really working on is to make sure it has as much heart as it does humor. … My dream for it would be the modern-day Oklahoma!”