The State of Texas: June 2, 2014
Slideshow of the Day
After the San Antonio Spurs’s nail-biting, OT win over Oklahoma City in the semifinals, its fans went wild—at home, at the bar, on the street wearing their Día de Muertos attire. Lord knows what’ll happen when the Spurs take it all:
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A group of knuckeheads messed with Austin’s La Barbeque late Saturday night, including knocking over its port-o-potties. Like peeing on The Alamo, the desecration of a Texas barbecue joint is sacrilege. These guys are dead meat.
Mack Brown may have quit Texas, but based on this Twitter picture of the legend with two other said legends, it’s clear Texas hasn’t quit Mack Brown:
Fun dinner with VY and Matthew Mc. Two of the best at what they do and even better people and friends. pic.twitter.com/vz90J2iTVt
— Mack Brown (@UT_MackBrown) May 31, 2014
Loaded Questions — If half a dozen assault rifles in a Chipotle sounds wild, then imagine about 150 at a Home Depot. That’s exactly what the Tarrant County chapter of Open Carry Texas did Saturday, according to the Dallas Morning News. By meeting up at the hardware store with their long guns, “the heavily armed contingent” hoped to bring attention to their other cause: no open carry for handguns. “‘I’d much rather have a handgun on my hip,’ said Mark Thompson, 54, of Garland. Instead, he attended Saturday’s rally with a Beretta semi-automatic rifle strapped across his back.” Not everyone liked the idea of mixing real guns with caulk guns and one “typical post” on the company’s Facebook page declared, “Since we can’t know when this fanatical anti-woman, death-celebrating-culture group will snap, we’ll be going to Lowe’s from now on.” It’s a heated, public safety argument to be sure. But according to a recently released poll, few think their fellow Texans should be armed without first being vetted. The poll found that “most Texans support requiring background checks for all firearm sales [and] Eighty-five percent of likely voters support a change in law to require the checks for private gun transfers,” which currently is only required when purchasing firearms from an authorized dealer. The poll was commissioned by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords’s gun-safety organization, so draw your own conclusions (and rhetorical weapons).
[kən-ˌgra-chə-ˈlā-shən] — A Texas wordsmith has returned home glorious in battle. Thirteen-year-old Ansun Sujoe, out of Fort Worth, won the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee Thursday, sharing the title with a kid from New York state. This marks “the first time in 52 years, two spellers were declared co-champions,” according to CBS. As the Associated Press notes, the co-champs “essentially used up the entire list of words the Bee had to offer.” The New York kid was favored to win, and our man Sujoe “had come out of nowhere.” NBCDFW caught up with Sujoe upon his return. To be a spelling champ, you apparently have to be all-but-born with the desire. “Since I was in second grade, I’ve been watching the finals and all that,” Sujoe said. “And I’ve just been pretty fascinated and I wanted to be like them.” It also takes a lot of studying, “like two to four hours a day on weekdays. And then virtually all day on weekends.” The Star-Telegram calls Sujoe “the pride of Bethesda” (his school, Bethesda Christian) in its lengthy look at the soon-to-be eighth-grader. The paper even wrote an editorial praising Sujoe for his “poise, confidence and humility.” Based on Sujoe’s quotes, that’s pretty accurate assessment of the warrior-philosopher. “I don’t recognize [my opponents] as rivals or anything and trying to beat them. It’s kind of like a partnership to defeat the words.”
The University of Oil — The oil boom has it rainin’ green on college campuses. “Over the past five years, the [UT and A&M] systems have seen their endowments grow by around 70 percent as oil revenue floods in at the rate of almost $1 billion a year,” according to the Morning News. “At a time most state universities are fighting just to maintain programs, UT and A&M are spending hundreds of millions a year on new construction projects while maintaining tuition costs routinely cited as among the most affordable in the nation.” It would seem Texas has its forefathers to thank for the current cash flow. “The boom of oil money comes from 2.1 million acres of land in West Texas set aside in 1839 to help fund higher education,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The University of North Texas system, however, has mistaken financial transactions to thank for its excess cash. In the past ten years, UNT received about $84 million in excess funds from the state, reports the Texas Tribune. “The system received the excess money for benefits of employees whose salaries come from local funds, but state money can only be used to pay for benefits of individuals whose salaries are paid with state money.” Now, the university is, er, “currently discussing with state officials options for handling the situation.” Perhaps UNT should invest in oil rigs.
Water Is Thicker Than Blood — The fight over water rights isn’t just between companies and farmers and residents; it’s now pitting families against each other. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, tells the tale of a family feuding over the precious resource. Cotton farmer James Altman told his nephew by marriage that he’d “kick your ass” for turning off the farmer’s irrigation well. Although he did admits that “I’m 76. I may have to get someone to help me.” His nephew, Danny Worsham, had turned off Altman’s well after his own went dry. The nephew is not backing down one bit. “Every time he starts his wells up everybody feels it. I’ve got a 380 and a 20 gauge. We’ll see who can aim the best.” As the Avalanche-Journal notes, “The passions stirred between Worsham and his uncle echo sentiments throughout the state, particularly in West Texas. The question of who controls the water increasingly pits farmers against neighbors as leaders grapple with managing aquifers stressed by the ongoing drought and booming demand.” Apart from the story of this wild civil war, the piece is another drought must-read as it once again maps out the numerous legal tributaries winding in and out of the water debate. “It’s crazy what family members will fight over,” said Lubbock County sheriff’s spokesman. “Now water, that’s a good reason for people to fight.”