The State of Texas: January 9, 2015
Craigslist Of The Day
It would seem that just about everything in Austin is haunted. First there was the case of the haunted sword. Now comes the more traditional haunted house. In all fairness, the one-bedroom abode is in West Campus, itself filled with nasty ghouls and disturbed souls. From the ad: “Many years ago, the house was rented by a group of fraternity brothers. I can’t be sure, but I believe that they had such a good time here that they decided to stay. Forever. If you listen carefully on a quiet Friday or Saturday night, you can hear the telltale sounds of binge drinking. Also, my beer mysteriously disappears from the fridge sometimes. Although, that might just be one of my roommates.”
Kinky Friedman: musician, novelist, perennial state candidate and now … ESPN commentator? Talking about the now-infamously awkward hug between Jerry Jones and Chris Christie, Kinky did not disappoint, saying that the two men were, “in the most important and latent homosexual relationship since Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.”
We Have Issues — The Lege’s agenda is starting to take shape and to no one’s surprise, it’s veering right. At a news conference yesterday, incoming Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick “pledged hefty property and business tax cuts, as well pushing to scrap a popular 2001 Texas law offering in-state university tuition to the children of people who came to the U.S. illegally,” writes the Houston Chronicle, which characterized the agenda as “ultra-conservative.” Because nothing says transparency like gutting accountability watchdogs, Patrick also “said he’d leave out funding in the next budget for the state public integrity unit, which investigates wrongdoing by elected officials.” Meanwhile, governor-elect Greg Abbott was “far less confrontational” but had plenty of points of his own to make. Abbot “called for doing away with a’“patchwork quilt’ of local bans on everything from paper and plastic bags to fracking,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. His reasoning is to protect Texas against becoming another California, a laudable goal, even if the tactic of state interference feels akin to something the vilified federal government might do. Along with the proposed agenda, Abbott also previewed the kind of wonderful quotes we might be expect for at least the next four years. Discussing tree cutting laws, Abbott called them, “a form of collectivism.” So watch out for that Communist cedar.
A Queer Approach — Texas will probably be one of the last holdouts against gay marriage, and now some are getting inventive in their efforts to prevent the unions. A bill introduced yesterday would, among other things, halt the pay of any “state or local government employees giving out same-sex marriage licenses,” according to the Texas Tribune. The bill proposes doubling down on any legal actions, requiring “state courts to dismiss legal actions that challenge a provision of the bill and award legal costs and attorney fees to the defendants.” As the story notes, appellate courts all over the country have struck down gay marriage bans and the Supreme Court has effectively given tacit approval of that equality. So a bill that would probably directly defy federal law should make for a spectacle.
Stranger Than Fiction — The Houston Chronicle has a Hollywood-worthy story involving an Iranian-born car salesman in Texas, a Mexican drug cartel member-turned-informant, and a plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States with a car bomb. “During that meeting with the informant in Reynosa, [the car salesman, now serving 25 years] spoke of hiring him and his cartel team to kill the ambassador, then later doing other jobs, such as hitting the Israeli Embassy to the United States as well as Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina.“ The Chronicle lays out as much as it can—not all the information has been released—but it’s a fascinating look nonetheless. Louie Gohmert, we owe you an apology!
Musical Chairs — News is circulating that the long-time director of the Texas Music Office has been fired, to be replaced by … well, that song hasn’t been written yet. Casey Monahan served in the position for the past 25 years, and his ousting was not taken well by people in the music community. Roland Swenson, managing director of South by Southwest, said it was “serious blow for Texas music,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. In its write-up, the Dallas Morning News flat-out says “No one did more to promote Texas music, from mariachi to punk to country. And no one loves Texas music more.” What no publication–the Dallas Morning News, Statesman, even the Associated Press–really does, however, is explain exactly what the director of the Texas Music Office does. The Texas Tribune gets closest by directly quoting the legislative language used in creaing the position. The office “promote[s] the development of the music industry in the state by informing members of that industry and the public about the resources available in the state for music production.” No replacement has been announced but “there’s plenty of speculation that Abbott has a replacement in mind—likely a friend of longtime Abbott aide-turned-transition team leader-turned-future-chief of staff Daniel Hodge,” according to the Morning News.
Brisket Briefs — In this new era of friendly football wagers between city mayors, Dallas’s Mike Rawlings and Green Bay’s Jim Schmitt are betting on the Cowboys-Packers game this Sunday. “If the Packers win, Rawlings has to send [Schmitt] some Pecan Lodge offerings. Because barbecue,” writes Robert Wilonsky. If the Cowboys win, Schmitt is on the hook for “a basket full of Wisconsin favorites.” We guess that means cheese? Maybe snow too? Whatever it is, it ain’t Pecan Lodge. In the words of one Twitter-er, “Well, no matter who wins (Go Cowboys!), Jim gets the better of that deal.” Another barbeque non-surprise is that Eddie Deen will be feeding the crowd at Greg Abbott’s inauguration next week. As KHOU notes, “Since 1995, Deen has fed 74,500 at Texas gubernatorial inaugurations. It all started when then-Governor George W. Bush tried some of Eddie’s brisket and liked it. He has also catered the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City; served evacuees from Hurricane Katrina; and everyone at the inaugurations of Rick Perry and George W. Bush when he was both governor and president.”