The State of Texas: March 27, 2014
Menu of the Day
The frontier of gastronomical delights isn’t some fancy NYC establishment or an impossible-to-reach California vineyard. It’s the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Their latest offering? Bacon on a stick! Which, ESPN notes, pairs quite well with the frozen beer. Eat your heart out, Escoffier.
Video of the Day
In case you missed it, there was an amazing rescue during the massive apartment fire in Houston on Tuesday. Even more amazing is this nail-biting cell phone video, complete with commentary from workers in a nearby office building:
The Case of the Secret Execution Drugs — Last week, Texas prison officials said they obtained a new batch of pentobarbital just as the current supply was set to expire. But they refused to say where they got the goods, citing safety concerns for the provider of the drug. On Wednesday, a lawyers for two death row inmates filed a lawsuit demanding the identity of who sold the drugs to the state. “Without information about where the drugs come from, and the purity, potency and integrity of those drugs, neither [condemned man] can evaluate the risk that their executions will subject them to cruel and unusual pain in violation of the Eighth Amendment,” argue the lawyers, according to the Associated Press. A hearing on the matter is set for today.
Channeling Resources — Four days after the 168,000-gallon oil spill in the Galveston Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard reopened all lanes of shipping traffic Wednesday. Movement remains restricted to daylight hours, according to Bloomberg News. Around 50 local businesses impacted by the spill filed a class action lawsuit Monday against the two companies involved in the collision. As one of the plaintiffs told KHOU, “Our livelihood is just shut down … We can’t make any money. We can’t feed our families.” A story in the Texas Tribune describes worries about the spill’s long-term impact on the bay’s marine life. In 2012, “nearly 5.8 million pounds of fish were commercially harvested from Galveston Bay, at a combined wholesale value of $16.4 million,” more than one-tenth of which comes from the ecologically sensitive shrimp. The spill is, however, a boon for others. “As many [as] 800 temporary jobs became available because of the spill,” reports the Galveston County Daily News in its commendable effort to find any positive spin. The other “good” news is that the spill won’t effect gas prices, according to CBS’s Dallas affiliate, which notes that Exxon’s refineries “haven’t had to slow production.” How lovely for them.
Not Guilty, Or Innocent — A former death row inmate, whose conviction in Austin’s infamous Yogurt Shop Murders was later overturned thanks to DNA evidence, is now fighting to be declared innocent. It could take awhile. “The lead attorney for [Robert Burns Springsteen IV], said emotions about the case still run too high for a fair hearing to take place in Travis County, which is why he filed the petition in Bexar County.” Who knew proving one’s innocence was so hard after years of having proved one’s innocence? “[The lead attorney] said an earlier attempt to have Springsteen declared ‘actually innocent’ in federal court failed when a judge dismissed the claim in January, citing a lack of jurisdiction.” According to the San Antonio Express-News, testimony might not be heard for the next six months to a year. For more on the grisly murders, which remain unsolved, revisit these 2001 and 2011 pieces on the case by Texas Monthly‘s indefatigable Michael Hall.
Remedial Efforts — Texas really is throwing money at the state’s education problem! “Texas has moved up slightly in per-pupil spending among the states, after the Legislature added funding last year,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Unfortunately, all that cramming ain’t enough to pass the test, as the state “still ranks in the bottom five states.” A new study found that “Texas [spent] an average of $8,998 per student this school year, 46th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia … well under the national average of $11,674.” As far as improvements go, things couldn’t have gotten much worse, only better. Last year, Texas was ranked second-to-last. At this rate, Texas education will be worthy of a “Gentleman’s C” about the time Julian Castro’s three-month-old daughter becomes the state’s first Democratic Governor, in 2060.
A Civil Response — Money might buy a little freedom after a drunken, deadly rampage. But apparently all the money in the world doesn’t make up for some injustices. “The parents of a boy injured in a North Texas wreck that killed four other people said Wednesday that they will not settle with the teenage drunken driver, whose ‘affluenza’ defense and probation sentence garnered nationwide attention,” according to the AP. Speaking for the family, a lawyer said the 16-year-old and his family haven’t “had to answer the hard questions about the lack of supervision from the parents … and the hard questions as to what actually happened that night.” The families of the four killed have all settled with the wealthy teens family. And “while [the lawyer] didn’t rule out a settlement for [the family], he said he wanted a trial for ‘accountability and responsibility.'”