The State of Texas: July 17, 2015
Quote of the Day
– A rather optimistic Governor Abbott on El Chapo
The fight for relevancy between Donald Trump and our own Rick Perry continues, with the two once again taking Twitter swipes at each other:
— Rick Perry (@GovernorPerry) July 16, 2015
.@GovernorPerry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
Suspicious Death – The more details that emerge from the Waller County jail death of a black woman, the more troubling the whole thing looks. On Friday, Sandra Bland was pulled over for a minor traffic violation then arrested after a contentious exchange with police. She was dead in a jail cell Monday morning, with local authorities saying the died by suicide. But Bland had just moved to Texas to start a new job (i.e. showed no indication of suicide). Furthermore, Waller County doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to police treatment of minorities, nor does its Sheriff Glenn Smith, who addressed his own history of documented racism and previous termination. Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers are now investigating the incident and State Senator Royce West is “asking the state Department of Public Safety to publicly release video of the state trooper traffic stop that began the series of events that ended in Sandra Bland’s death in the Waller County Jail,” according to the Dallas Morning News.
The Cost of Being Governor – Leadin’ Texas ain’t cheap. “Abbott listed at least $146,850 of air travel fees on his semiannual campaign finance report to the Texas Ethics Commission,” reports the Dallas Morning News. After returning $550,000 gifted by a Grand Prairie developer convicted of domestic abuse, Abbott “spent just under $2 million. More than $112,000 went to his New Hampshire-based political consultant.” He’ll be OK, though, money wise. “As of June 30, Abbott boasted a daunting $17.8 million in cash.” Former governor Rick Perry is burning through cash as well, but not for the greatest reasons. According to financial records, he has “now spent more than $2 million in state campaign cash fighting the abuse-of-power indictment against him,” according to the Texas Tribune. “The steady stream of legal fees has left Perry with roughly $1.3 million in the account, a fraction of the $4.4 million he had stockpiled a year ago. And with Perry no longer holding statewide office, very little money is flowing into the account — $685 from January through June, to be exact.”
Unplanned Problems – Although it sounds like the beginning to a cheesy horror movie, Planned Parenthood made it clear yesterday that there is no fetal harvesting happening in Texas. Also: what’s the big deal? “It’s something that’s been going on, is legal and should not be raising anymore eyebrows than what is being raised with cadavers donated for research. It involves body parts, but what’s new?” a professor of law and bioethics told the Austin American-Statesman. The strange stories come after an anti-abortion group conducted an undercover “sting,” which shows Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services “casually [referring] to fetal hearts, lungs and livers and efforts to retrieve these organs intact.” Selling the organs fetuses is illegal, though donating them with consent from the woman isn’t. But “even legal donation of fetal tissue isn’t happening at any Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, said Sarah Wheat, vice president of community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.” Responding to the controversy that has inspired Republican leaders of several states to call for investigations into the group, president Cecile Richards denied the allegations of organ profiteering, but apologized for “the staff member’s tone and statements” in the video.
Cobra Concerns – If you live in Austin, chances are you’ve been looking over your shoulder (or under your feet) for the past two days. But the search for a missing monocled cobra came to an end Friday morning when APD found it dead near the Lowe’s parking lot where it went missing. The cobra was suspected of killing its eighteen-year-old owner, Temple resident Grant Thompson. Previously, a “group of roughly eight to 10 animal control officers, herpetologists and other animal experts” were hunting for the snake according to the Statesman. And officials really weren’t screwing around with this venomous creature. “We felt we needed to organize and conduct a proactive search in the interest of public safety,” Animal Protection supervisor Mark Sloat said. The story of a cobra on the loose has made national and international news. And this being the twenty-first century, the cobra lives on through Twitter, making lots of jokes.