The State of Texas: July 22, 2015
Dashcam released in Sandra Bland case, and Trump is comin’ to Texas.
Quote of the Day
– Dave Herndon, who walked away unscathed after a semi rolled over onto his Toyota in San Antonio.
Texas By the Numbers
Pump Down – Number of oil rigs currently in the Eagle Ford Shale: 98. Last week: 102. Years since the last time the rig count fell below 100: five.
Calling for Backup – Number of cops Austin plans to hire in the next five years: 410. Number of officers to be hired in the first year: 82. Number of new officers hired last year: 52. Estimated cost for adding new officers in the first year: $10.4 million
Pink in the Heart of Texas – Tarrant County’s rank among counties with highest number of layoffs this year: first. Number of layoffs: 3,199. Hidalgo County’s rank: second. Layoffs: 3,182.
Worth a Thousand Words – As promised, officials yesterday released the dashcam footage (or some of it) of Sandra Bland’s arrest in Waller County. Bland’s death has garnered national attention (she was found dead in her jail cell three days after the traffic stop), and this latest development is no exception. In the video, Bland is clearly agitated that she was pulled over and told to step out of the car over a simple traffic stop. Via a wireless microphone, the officer can be heard saying, “I will light you up!” while threatening her with a Taser. Later, when Bland described the officer hitting her head against the ground (off camera) and warned him that she had epilepsy, the officer replied, “Good.” It is, in short, an awful video to watch. At Tuesday night’s memorial service, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said, “Once I put this baby in the ground. I’m ready. … This means war.” Officials are taking a very measured approach. “The message we are sending here in Texas is the way any case like this should be handled anywhere in the country, and that is to be sure that every question is asked and every question is answered,” said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. “So at the end the facts lead us to the truth.” During a Tuesday press conference, state senator Royce West said the arrest should not have happened and urged for ethnic diversity among the grand jury for this case, according to the Associated Press.
Makin’ It Rain – It’s time to celebrate. After nearly five years, Texas is officially drought-free! “According to the newest U.S. Drought Monitor report, not a single Texan or Texas county is still impacted by drought conditions following a spring and early summer of heavy rains and flooding,” writes the San Antonio Express-News. “Presently, only 2.84 percent of Texans—163,000 people—are experiencing even ‘Abnormally Dry’ conditions.” It was a long time coming, but it wasn’t gradual. As the Texas Tribune noted, “Just three months ago, more than 35 percent of the Lone Star State was in some form of drought—either moderate, severe, extreme or exceptional, depending on the location. A year ago, it was more than 60 percent.” Up next? Pulling out that Rainy Day Fund! “State officials will decide later this week whether to approve $1 billion in loans and financial help to fund future water projects across Texas. Many of the 21 applicants are in the Dallas–Fort Worth and Houston areas, where the population is expected to grow,” according to the Associated Press. “There are also projects in the Rio Grande Valley, Central Texas, the Gulf Coast and West Texas. The Texas Water Development Board will vote Thursday in Austin on the approximately 30 projects.”
Budget Blunder – How well did Governor Greg Abbott do with one of his main campaign pitches? Not well, says the Legislative Budget Board. “Many of the line-item budget vetoes made by Governor Greg Abbott last month did not actually reduce spending because they were not performed properly,” according to the Houston Chronicle. “Ursula Parks, director of the Legislative Budget Board, said in a memorandum to State Comptroller Glenn Hegar that most of Abbott’s actions ‘have the effect neither of actually reducing agency or institution appropriations, nor indeed of eliminating legislative direction on the use of funds.’” Governor Abbott’s spokesman, however, said the declaration was little more than turf-marking by the LBB. And in other Abbott news, the governor has called for an expanded investigation of Planned Parenthood after a second video was released showing the group’s representatives discussing the money aspects of fetal harvesting. In a statement, Abbott said that the new video “is more than just callous and morally bereft, it may be criminal. The video appears to directly contradict Planned Parenthood’s statement last week that they do not earn a profit for selling body parts. Today’s new grotesque revelations necessitate that Texas expand its investigation into this abhorrent practice.”
Brace Yourselves – Trump is coming. Yup, the very same Trump who’s been trolling fellow presidential candidate Rick Perry for a couple weeks now is coming to Texas. “Trump is visiting Laredo this week to tour the border, according to Sergio Moreno, secretary for National Border Patrol Council Local 2455. No other details about Trump’s trip were available late Tuesday,” the Texas Tribune writes. As reported in its “EXCLUSIVE” about the news, Breitbart Texas says that “following the border tour, Trump will have a town hall–style meeting where law enforcement officers will be invited to provide feedback on their perspective of the border situation.” Apparently, the publication “worked with [the council president] to prepare for Trump’s border tour.” Unfortunately, mum is the word on specifics from Breitbart. “We will keep the details of Mr. Trump’s intended visit private at this time.”