The State of Texas: June 19, 2014
Photo of the Day
The Spurs had their hero’s return yesterday. And naturally, it’s not a ticker-tape parade through San Antonio without floating through the River Walk. USA Today has a story that’s all fun and color while the San Antonio Express-News goes full slideshow. Congrats, again, boys:
Houston is one of the fastest going cities in the country. Yet, unlike Austin, Portland or New York (or even Detroit), the Bayou City is never seen as a hip, cool city to move to. Over at The Billfold, writer Aboubacar Ndiaye wrestles with this problem in a personal essay published yesterday. The result is a thoughtful, deeply felt love letter to his adopted hometown which every Houstonian could be proud of.
For Its Own Protection — Child Protective Services is experiencing some pretty terrible neglect, according to a new report released this week. The report, which cost $750,000 to produce, “describes CPS, a division of the Department of Family and Protective Services, as an agency adrift without clear policy directives, constantly scrambling to react to the latest crisis and so maladroit at managing its front-line employees that every year more than a third of them quit, costing the state millions of dollars and potentially placing vulnerable children at greater risk,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. The report also lists a number of recommendations, which essentially amounts to: fix everything. With about 160,000 to 180,000 investigative cases a year and caseworkers only spending about 26 percent of their time working face-to-face with children and families, those improvements couldn’t come fast enough.
Turning Up The Heat — Texas prisons are so hot (and deadly) that four inmates have filed a lawsuit, hoping a federal judge will turn down the thermostat. The “first of several promised lawsuits” seeks to “impose a temperature limit of 88 degrees or lower at the Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, a medical facility for inmates said to be particularly susceptible to heat-related injury.” An associate with UT’s Civil Rights Clinic said, “What we’re asking for in this lawsuit is not that the prisons be comfortable or luxurious. What we’re asking is that the prisons be humane.” For more on this issue, read Texas Monthly intern Annie Melton’s detailed blog post on this latest effort, and her eye-opening piece about the whole debate (and continued lawsuits).
Hammertime — Tom Delay is back once again to battle charges of being a politician conspiracy and money laundering convictions. The former House Majority Leader appeared at the Third Court of Appeals as Travis County prosecutors attempted to reinstate the 2010 conviction. As the Statesman notes, “If the state’s highest court rules for DeLay, the marathon case is over. If not, the court could re-instate the verdict or send the case back to the Third Court where DeLay would argue other points of law.” In the meantime, it would seem that Delay is back to acting bluntly like “The Hammer.” Delay spoke to reporters after his court appearance and did not sound contrite. “The Democrats, nor the left, have slowed me down one iota,” he said. “Nothing has changed other than maybe I can get a job.” It’ll be months, however, before a court decision is made.
Judicial Rewrite — Bernie Tiede is out on bond and living with director Richard Linklater, but the family of the woman he killed, Majorie Nugent, want him back in prison. They filed a petitition yesterday to find out why the prosecutor overseeing the case, Danny Buck Davidson, allowed the release of Tiede without the family having a chance to speak. “No one can be harmed by permitting presentation of countervailing arguments. To the contrary, adversarial presentation of the merits would serve the ends of justice,'” reads the petition. “Marjorie Nugent and the citizens of Texas deserve better than to have a confessed murderer set free without anyone even articulating to this Court the reasons why that might not be appropriate,” the family says in their motion. It’s a reasonable question. But as the Texas Tribune writes, “Neither Davidson nor Tiede’s lawyer could be immediately reached for comment.”
Read Before Passing — “Dallas County commissioners unanimously passed a Juneteenth resolution … supporting reparations to African-Americans for slavery.” Does this mean writer Ta-Nehisi Coates’s much-discussed case for reparations having a real-world impact? Not, it would seem, in this case. “[C]ommissioners admitted after their meeting Tuesday that they hadn’t read the document before voting for it. …The ‘Juneteenth Resolution,’ commemorating the day slaves in Texas learned of their freedom, seemed from its description to be just another routine proclamation,” according to the Dallas Morning News. But John Wiley Price, who authored the resolution, “included a long list of injustices endured by blacks, from slavery to Jim Crow to predatory lending practices. Then, in its final paragraph, it declared that the suffering of African-Americans should be ‘satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations.'” Some commissioners said they didn’t have a copy of the resolution to read until an hour before the vote, but even after finding out, none of the commissioners changed their vote, “meaning the resolution remains the county’s official position. It is, however, a nonbinding resolution, and no tax money will change hands as a result of its passage.”