The State of Texas: June 4, 2014
Video of the Day
The season finale of PBS’s The Daytripper—”destinations in Texas for Texans”—has host Chet Garner skimming around the town of Orange.
Texas by The numbers
El Paso Horno — Temperature in El Paso on Monday: 104 degrees. Previous high, in 2011: 102 degrees. Temperature on Tuesday: 109 degrees. Last year’s record: 103 degrees
Golden Ticket — Cost of Spurs/Heat balcony ticket on secondary market: $300. Terrance seats: $21,000. Plaza level: at least $600. Charter level seats: $2,200 and up. Two courtside seats: $15,000 and $19,000. Average amount need to watch the games at a bar: $20.
Unsolved City — Total number of criminal cases not investigated by the HPD in 2013: 20,000. Number of burglaries and thefts: 15,000. Assaults: 3,000. Hit-and-runs: about 3,000. Number of additional officers needed to reach certain patrol benchmarks: 1,508. Criminal investigators: 101.
The New Abolitionists — They couldn’t be more different politically, but Governor Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Annise Parker put all that aside to announce a very worthy initiative. The pair were in Houston to launch a “statewide campaign to raise awareness about [human] trafficking,” reports the Houston Chronicle. “Beginning Tuesday, billboards about human trafficking will be displayed in Houston and other Texas cities such as Dallas and San Antonio. Public service announcements will air on Univision television, Univision radio and Clear Channel radio. There also will be billboards on Houston area Yellow Cabs and Metro buses.” More than just a massive PSA, law enforcement officials and prosecutors also said they will be cracking down on johns and pimps, a nice change of pace from targeting the women. The Chronicle story has some rather unpleasant numbers regarding human trafficking and the modern day slave-trade (Texas was number two in calls made to the national Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline), which Perry called “an affront to human decency.” For a truly intimate and heartbreaking look at the Houston sex slave trade and what many of those woman must endure, be sure to read the exhaustive 2010 piece by Texas Monthly‘s own Mimi Swartz.
Spilling The Truth — All this week, officials are hearing testimony regarding the Houston Ship Channel collision that resulted in 170,000 gallons of oil being spilled, the largest such accident in Galveston Bay in two decades. The carrier’s pilot testified Tuesday, according to the Chronicle, that he “didn’t hear the captain of the tugboat pushing the barge broadcast her position and intention to cross the channel ahead of his vessel [and] he had failed to monitor a Coast Guard-required radio channel over which the tugboat captain broadcast crucial information.” The two vessels are named The Miss Susan and Summer Wind, and as a result, the Chronicle‘s very detailed account of the testimony is not only a bit confusing for landlubbers, but also kind of funny without context (e.g. “the Summer Wind unexpectedly increased its speed” … “[the captain] said he didn’t know the Miss Susan was a threat”). About ten witnesses are expected to testify and the Coast Guard investigation “will gather information to determine a cause for the collision, find out whether a material failure, misconduct or negligence was responsible and make recommendations to keep it from happening again.”
Blowback — The gun battle between the NRA and a local chapter of an Open Carry group continues. Tuesday, a few days after the NRA said the group and its tactics were “downright weird” and “foolishness,” Open Carry Texas shot back with a Facebook-posted press release. “The NRA has refused to learn for themselves how Open Carry Texas (OCT) conducts itself other than what the liberal media and Bloomberg funded gun control extremists have falsely portrayed,” read the statement. “The real ignorance in their statement is that it was completely unnecessary.” As the Dallas Morning News notes, however, the NRA seems to be a little gun-shy after first popping off. The NRA’s chief spokesman said “last week’s post ‘was a mistake that should not have happened.’ He blames Friday’s statement on a staffer, and says it’s not the NRA’s official position.” Gun-rhetoric safety is clearly a class that needs to be retaken.
Class Disruptions — Looks like summer school is definitely happening for the troublemakers. “The judge overseeing Texas’ massive school finance trial has refused to recuse himself despite a motion filed by state attorneys alleging bias, likely further delaying a case that began more than 18 months ago,” according to the AP. The lawsuit concerns $5.4 billion cut from classrooms way back in 2011. The state had asked the judge to recuse himself Monday because of “recent emails he and members of his court staff exchanged with attorneys representing the 600-plus school districts that have sued the state.” Now another judge “will either appoint an outside judge to have a hearing on the state’s motion, or convene similar proceedings himself.” Unfortunately, “It’s not clear how long the process will take.” Gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis called the motion “a last ditch, desperate effort to delay a decision until after the election.”
Fifty Shades of Royalties — The Fort Worth Star-Telegram headline isn’t misleading per se, but you’d be forgiven if you thought “Arlington woman seeks millions in royalties from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey” might be a case of author E.L. James cribbing scenes from a local woman’s online diary. However, the lawsuit claims that the Arlington woman “sold 250,000 e-book and print-on-demand paperback versions of Fifty Shades, but was fraudulently deprived of any proceeds from its sale to Random House in March of 2012 by Amanda Hayward of Dural, a Sydney suburb.” The woman, understandably, wants her just royalties, especially since they could “easily amount to $10 million or perhaps more than $20 million.” No word yet on who will play the Arlington woman in the upcoming FSG movie.