The State of Texas: July 24, 2015
Donald Trump visits the border and Sandra Bland’s preliminary autopsy points to suicide.
Texas country crooner Daron Norwood was found dead in his Hereford apartment Wednesday. As Norwood himself sang, “cowboys don’t cry,” but maybe we can at least shed a few tears:
Friday FuryYou don’t mess with a Texas man’s roses. After a bush was stolen from his yard, the 80-year-old man left a, uh, thorny message in his front yard. “They took the rosebush, but you have to let people know they can’t step on you,” said the Houston victim.
Ya Finished, Laredo – Laredo was front and center of national news Thursday. Unfortunately, the reason wasn’t necessarily a good one for many (or maybe it was!). Gonzo presidential candidate Donald Trump flew into town, just a few weeks after his caustic comments on immigration, and the national media followed. He’d originally planned to meet with the local border patrol union, but the group canceled at the last minute. In a statement, the group said that it pulled the plug “after careful consideration of all the factors involved in this event and communicating with members of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC).” Not that that stopped The Donald. In his always subtle way, Trump told reporters after arriving that “they invited me and then all of a sudden they were told ‘silencio.'” Such cross-cultural civility continued when Trump and a Telemundo reporter got into it during one of the press stops. “You’re finished,” Trump told the reporter, cutting him off as he tried to question Trump’s previous comments about immigrants being rapists. (The Washington Post has a nice look at how both Telemundo and Univision covered Trump’s visit.) For some great pictures of the whole day (including Trump wearing a trucker hat that read “Make America Great Again”), be sure to check out the Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske’s Twitter.
Unfortunate Reports – A prosecutor told reporters that a preliminary autopsy suggests Sandra Bland died by suicide, though “the findings are preliminary and toxicology testing is not complete,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “In an afternoon news conference in the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead … [Warren Diepraam, first assistant in the office of the Waller County district attorney] said an examination of Bland’s hands provided ‘no evidence whatsoever’ of a struggle. There were no defensive injuries – such as broken fingernails or lacerations – that pointed to violence.” Thursday a woman in the cell across the hall (there for 17 days after unpaid traffic tickets) described how distraught Bland and said she believed that she’d committed suicide. But Bland’s family will continue to search for answers. “Bland’s family is awaiting results of a second, independent autopsy as they prepare for her funeral on Saturday,” according to ABC7.
The Missions’s Mission – The San Antonio Current has an interesting, in-depth look at the Missions now that they’ve been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. “On average, a non-local visitor who spends the day here will contribute $97.73 into the local economy. Non-local overnight visitors will spend $281.82 a day,” the weekly reported. Based on a study in which the Missions are “aggressively” promoted as World Heritage sites, “promotion and marketing will attract nearly 144,000 new visitors by 2025, resulting in $397 million of economic activity” on the low end and “409,000 new visitors to the WHS by 2025, creating a $502 million windfall,”if there is a fostered sense of community pride. The economic impact is a real incentive for those various groups in charge of maintaining the structures, particularly since, as the piece notes, UNESCO is not shy about removing designations because of encroaching development. So ensuring urban development — we’re looking at you, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium, which is right across the way — doesn’t jeopardize the designation is a real concern.
Judged – The lone biker fighting his case after the Waco Twin Peaks shooting had a tiny victory. “A visiting judge Thursday ordered McLennan County Justice of the Peace Walter H. “Pete” Peterson to refrain from hearing any other issues regarding Matthew Clendennen, a Hewitt businessman who was among the 177 bikers arrested after the deadly shootout at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant,” reports KWTX. And why was Peterson removed? Oh, he just happened to be the same judge who “signed arrest warrants and set across-the-board $1 million bonds for all 177 bikers, all but three of whom have since been released from jail.” Clendennen’s lawyer made the fairly reasonable case that Peterson might have some prejudices, seeing as he ensured the arrests in the first place. It’s a small victory considering that there’s still plenty of questions about impartiality going on. Earlier this month, a Waco police detective was named foreman of the grand jury that will oversee the indictments of all the bikers.