The State of Texas: June 24, 2015
Question of the Day
–A Reddit user who’ll soon regret his words. Have any suggestions?
Texas By The Numbers
Gold Plated – Number of specialty-themed license plate applications the state has received since 2007: 271. Number it has rejected: 25. Amount raised from plates since 1994: $191 million. Revenue collected from “Read to Succeed”-themed plates: $0. Number of Confederacy-themed license plates allowed: 0.
Shake-up – Amount Governor Abbott approved for the study of earthquakes: $4.47 million. Cost of 22 permanent seismograph stations and 3 dozen portable stations: $2.47 million. Cost of analyzing data from 2.0-magnitude and above quakes: $2 million.
Ice Storm – Number of Texas deaths linked to meth use between 1999 to 2006: 650. Between 2007 and 2012: 985. Portion of meth that comes from Mexico: 90. Meth’s current rank among dangerous Texas drugs: second. Cocaine: third. The “No. 1 drug threat” according to the DEA: marijuana. Number of deaths directly caused by marijuana: 0.
The Last Full Measure? – Nothing like a racially motivated massacre to get people to act. Although UT’s statue of Jefferson Davis has been in the limelight before, a renewed push to have it removed has “gained new momentum” since the South Carolina shootings last week, according to the Texas Tribune. A circulating petition calling for removal currently has about 1,500 signatures, writes the Houston Chronicle. It’s more than just talk too. The Tribune reports that “school president Greg Fenves will meet with student leaders to discuss the issue Monday afternoon, a university spokesman said.” If the university doesn’t do anything about the confederate statue, it seems pretty clear by now that somebody will. Last night, the statue was once again vandalized, with some unknown party painting “‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ on the base of statues of three Confederate leaders,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The story also notes, rather slyly, that maintenance crews were “experienced at dealing with this sort of vandalism.” And in other Civil War news, the husband of Leticia Van de Putte announced that his company will no longer sell the Confederate battle flag, a bit of an odd choice since his company is named Dixie Flag Manufacturing Company.
Patrol and Prosper – It was just a couple of weeks ago that the Associated Press noted that Texas seems to be developing its own personal border patrol, thanks, in part, to former Governor Perry’s “surge” and a $800 million package recently approved by Governor Abbott. Now Bloomberg Business has an interesting look at what’s become a new “Texas miracle.” Say hello to the Border Bubble, in which the Valley sees general economic development thanks to all the beefed up security. Highlighted is Rio Grande City, “the town of 14,000, seat of the poorest county in Texas [that] put $80,000 into [family-friendly hike-and-bike trails], and is spending $125,000 on a new park.” What’s more, the town’s “general fund has grown 38 percent,” and “revenues nearly doubled to $510,000 in July 2014,” thanks to our state’s new side business. As the story notes, “more troopers are on their way to deliver another shot to what might be the biggest stimulus program this needy part of Texas has ever seen.” Some warn that this bubble is likely to burst faster than those typically seen with oil. While 2013’s Operation Strong Safety certainly boosted the local economy—accommodation vacancies plummeted as prices soared in towns like McAllen—migrant and drug apprehensions actually went down last year. “Some cost-benefit studies suggest border towns won’t come out ahead because deployments discourage tourism and cross-border shopping,” presumably because security check-points are a real killjoy.
A Bullcrap Landmark – In this particular case, that’s a good thing! “The Fort Worth Stockyards has been placed alongside the Grand Canyon and sacred Native American land in Arizona as one of America’s most endangered historic places by the nation’s top preservation organization,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The designation couldn’t have come sooner, as that little part of old Texas is being stampeded by progress. Specifically, a planned $175 million project that hopes to pen a different kind of cattle with “hotels, residential units, shopping and entertainment venues.” It’s not that advocates want to tie Texas down to a forever-gone past; rather, as an official with the National Trust said, “its inclusion should be seen as an avenue to open up more conversations about the tools in place that protect its historic resources. … The National Trust wants to encourage what is done is ‘smart and respectful’ of the historic district.” In being included on the list of endangered historic places, the Stockyards joins other such Texas gems as the “Astrodome, Fair Park’s Centennial Buildings, Historic Texas Courthouses and the Statler Hilton Hotel and eight historic neighborhoods in Dallas.”