The State of Texas: June 4, 2015
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You do not mess with Charlie Strong. And not just because the UT football coach has a reputation of being a no-nonsense taskmaster. It’s because Strong apparently likes to keep live tigers around. To be fair, they’re just cubs and the video of them is just so darn cute.
— Dalton Santos (@Daltonsantos55) June 2, 2015
All Aboard the Perry Train – Finally, weeks after the pre-announcement announcement, former governor Rick Perry has officially announced his intent to run for president (again). He has a website and everything. The New York Times’s take on Perry’s latest attempt—“In some ways, Mr. Perry’s expected entry into the race signals a remarkable political comeback”—is everything a backhanded compliment should be. The Wall Street Journal is less forgiving, wondering in its headline if Perry’s selling nothin’ but snake oil. “The ‘Texas Miracle’ is looking less impressive amid falling oil prices that have led to thousands of job cuts in his home state. That has created an opening for challengers to say Mr. Perry’s jobs record was attributable more to good timing—namely the hydraulic-fracturing oil-and-gas boom—than to the business-friendly mix of low tax rates and light regulations that he has frequently cited.” Perry has been pretty well vetted and picked through considering that this isn’t his first rodeo (had to say it), and now begins the earnest press tour starring his wife, Anita. She has a well-timed and very sympathetic interview with CNN in which she explains that she is “more clear-eyed than she was four years ago, and she is, at times, almost apologetic for failing to recognize the warning signs that her husband was not prepared for a White House bid.”
Not as Bad – You know things are rough when the good news is just a less-bad version of bad news. Regardless, “the Midland-Odessa Regional Economic Index posted a third consecutive monthly decline in the aftermath of the sharp drop in crude oil prices and contraction in oilfield activity,” reports the Midland Reporter-Telegram. This news is not surprising to anyone who knows that the well appears to be running dry, so to speak, but “what was unexpected was the very modest decline in the index, prepared by Amarillo Economist Karr Ingham for Security Bank and Midland Development Corp.” Said Ingham: “It’s a little encouraging that the index doesn’t appear to be reaching a quick peak and then dropping off a cliff. It may be absorbing the oilfield contraction better than we might have thought.” Not that that couldn’t change for the worse. Oil field activity in the Permian Basin dropped a whopping 60 percent this year, and the ripple affect has yet to show up in consumer spending and employment. But, again, positive thinking! “No matter the length and depth of the contraction, the area’s level of economic activity has been raised considerably compared to previous cycles, [Ingham] said. In other words, the peaks and the troughs are both higher than previous cycles.”
Finally. – Maybe the president of the University of Texas ain’t so bad. During his first press conference, on his first day, Greg Fenves ticked off a list of things he hopes to do. But “then,” as the Texas Tribune so wonderfully put it, “he got to the real news: He said he supports beer sales at Longhorn football games.” Any decision will be made by the governing UT System, but this is an awesome shift from departing chancellor Francisco Cigarroa who said the issue needed more study. Sure, some people might get a little drunk, but the university clearly hasn’t forgotten its most important mission: making money. “If the change is made, UT-Austin would follow in the footsteps of several other colleges in Texas. The University of Houston has allowed beer sales at football games for years,” writes the Tribune. “The University of North Texas sold more than 20,000 beers at its six home football games last season. Those expensive plastic bottles brought in about $46,000 in profit, the school said. Southern Methodist University in Dallas sold beer and wine at its basketball games in 2014, bringing in $350,000 in revenue, according to the Dallas Morning News. (Profit numbers weren’t released.) Tongue somewhat in his cheek (one hopes), Fenves said beer “enhances the fan experience and makes coming to the Longhorn games more attractive,” which is basically a juvenile novelty T-shirt.