The State of Texas: July 29, 2015
Under pressure, officials release more footage in the Sandra Bland case, and another cobra sighting, but this time in Houston.
Prank of the day
Will juvenile jokes on road signs ever get old? Someone in Dallas didn’t think so, posting a silly, if somewhat crude, message on the Central Expressway. Officials say it “wasn’t hacked remotely,” reports the Morning News. “[TxDOT] hasn’t determined if an employee of the contractor typed the message or a passerby took advantage of an unlocked control panel on the machine.” Never change, Dallas. Never change:
Texas by the numbers
Highways of Hell – Number of Texas cities among the country’s top twenty cities with the worst roads: two. San Antonio’s rank: 12th. Percentage of roads considered to be in poor condition: 49 percent. El Paso’s rank: 15th. Percentage of roads in poor condition: 46 percent.
Hecho en Tejas: State’s rank, nationally, for most goods produced: second. Total portion: more than 11 percent. Production index for July: –1.9. For June: –6.5.
What Oil Bust? – Estimated amount of state’s crude oil production for 2015: 1.284 billion barrels. Previous record: 1.263 billion barrels. Year that happened: 1972. Peak month on the Texas Petro Index in October 2014: 312 barrels. TPI in June of 2015: 255.7. Drop since same time in 2014: 17 percent.
No Satisfaction – The released video footage from the county jail where Sandra Bland died didn’t exactly quiet an angry and suspicious public, and officials have responded. Possibly reacting to conspiracy theories that Bland was dead before she was even put in the jail cell (and subsequent death and cyber-attack threats), Waller County authorities have released more footage. “The video released shows her arriving at the jail, being questioned by a jailer filling out forms, making phone calls, getting her mug shot taken, sleeping in her cell and being taken in and out,” reports the Associated Press. “She’s calm when she arrives at the jail, sometimes smiling and at one point putting her head in her hands. The jailer let her use the phone at the booking desk instead of the pay phone in her cell, and she was seen talking with animation during some of the calls. The video has no audio.” In addition to the footage, state representative Garnet Coleman will hold a House committee hearing today “to look at trooper arrest procedures and state jail standards,” according to the Texas Tribune. Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw will testify, although it’s not clear whether Waller County sheriff Glenn Smith will.
Slave Revolt – Well done, Texas! “The U.S. State Department’s recently released annual report on global human trafficking showed Texas to be an example of a state stepping up efforts to combat human trafficking in the U.S.,” according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “In 2014, Texas ranked second in the nation for number of human trafficking tips with 2,236 received by the Polaris Project’s National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC). However, the state has a Tier 1 rating, the best rating, for laws in place to combat human trafficking, according to a 2014 study by the Polaris Project, a nongovernmental organization that fights human trafficking.” It’s nice to know we’re doing something right, especially on purpose. It was a little more than a year ago that Houston officials, Governor Rick Perry, and federal agencies united in an “unprecedented partnership” to aggressively tackle the sex traffic problem. Houston had been ranked number one among U.S. cities “thought to have the most victims of human trafficking.”
Bad Bambi – The great philosopher Louis C.K. once said: “[Deer] suck, they’re just rats with hooves.” Boy, was he right. It seems the Cervidae vermin in Texas have been developing chronic wasting disease. The state “euthanized 34 deer Tuesday at a breeding ranch in Medina County,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. “A positive test in June there marked the first case in Texas of CWD in a captive-raised deer, prompting state officials to restrict the sale and movement of stock held by most breeders as they investigate its origin and reach.” The impact of the problem is far more devastating than many might realize. “Wildlife experts are concerned the disease could jump from breeder facilities into the wild, and infect the state’s four-million free-roaming deer,” writes Texas Public Radio. A $2 billion industry is at stake for breeders.
Ouroboros, Y’all – Texas snakes really are out to get us. First there was the murderous fugitive cobra in Austin. Then came the family whose property was invaded by copperheads. The latest news? Another cobra sighting! This time in Houston. Luckily, the latest incident resulted in no fatalities and a rather humorous write-up from the Houston Chronicle. The cobra (captured on film) was found wandering the halls of a luxury downtown apartment complex. According to one resident, some guy came running through the hall, warning others, and “we were like, you must be high, man, you must be tripping.” But, as the story notes, the resident “followed the man to have a look. He’d seen enough Indiana Jones movies, he said, to recognize what he saw as he turned a corner in the third floor hallway.” The good news is animal control came to collect the creature, although details from apartment management are slim. “A front desk clerk’s reference to ‘the snake incident’ was the loft’s only confirmation that a cobra might have been in the premises.”