The State of Texas: March 9, 2015
Terry Dorsey, the voice of country radio in the Dallas area, went to that big radio station in the sky on Saturday. Dorsey spent 26 years at KSCS-FM before retiring this past December. He was inducted into both the Country Disc Jockey Hall of Fame and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
Video of the Day
Another Texas police force, another attempt at video humor. This effort doesn’t quite have the same effect as the McConaughey-Lincoln spoof out of Cedar Hill, but it’s “funny” nonetheless (if you’re into public servants creating “viral content” for the “Internet” age). One thing is clear—Texas cops have a lot of extra time on their hands:
Nary a Drop to Drink – Although far from Africa or India, third-world conditions are right at our doorstep, according to a big piece from the Texas Tribune. “Along the Texas-Mexico border, nearly 90,000 people are believed to still live without running water. An untold number more—likely tens of thousands, but no one is sure—often have running water of such poor quality that they cannot know what poisons or diseases it might carry.” As the piece notes, this is not a new issue, and those who suffer most from the inadequacies of such basic needs are primarily poor Hispanics. What’s almost impressive is that population growth has actually increased in these areas despite the lack of water (and thus the increase in a wide variety of serious health issues). And “while the state’s drought has brought a swift response from elected officials, the cries from some border lawmakers about unsafe water have gone largely unheard before the full Legislature.” The Tribune’s piece is a much-needed look at this disastrous issue and definitely worth a read.
Unchecked Technology – Perhaps it should surprise no one, but the 21CT scandal was just the tip of the iceberg. The Austin American-Statesman has taken a hard look at the “cottage industry” of government technology contracts and in an extensive investigation found that “the state’s use of information technology contractors faces little or no oversight, even as companies have reeled in $580 million since the start of fiscal 2010. Tens of millions of dollars have been paid to at least 3,000 contract workers working for 210 companies, all without bidding requirements or public scrutiny.” More than 175 tech companies have been charging premium prices, and it would seem that “no single state agency monitors payments to contractors.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tech companies didn’t feel like talking to reporters, and those in government have been vague at best in explaining the lack of oversight. What’s even richer is that “of the top five contractors by hours billed in 2014, four are represented by NF Consulting.” More than having no oversight, NF Consulting has been “awarded an open-ended contract” and “can contract freely to state and local agencies with no bidding requirements or limits attached.”
Notorious Notaries – Coyotes aren’t the only ones who prey on migrants, and crossing the border doesn’t mean those seeking a new life are safe. The McAllen Monitor puts a spotlight on dubious public notaries that “were illegally charging people for immigration services.” The attorney general’s office has discovered 128 such notaries since 2002, and 26 of them were found in the Valley, notes the piece. Part of what makes migrants susceptible is that “in many Latin American countries, a notario publico is an attorney who works for the government and practices general law,” while here “a public notary is someone who can verify your identity on documents and stamp them with an official seal.” It’s confusing to anyone who doesn’t understand law, let alone speak the language. There are plenty of stories of confused migrants getting screwed over thanks to the predatory notaries. Recently, the Texas Attorney General’s Office warned that President Obama’s recent immigration executive order “could further entice scammers trying to swindle immigrants who think they qualify.”
Fever Pitch – Ahhh, spring training. A time to work on that fastball, hone that swing, and … ward off communicable illnesses? In case you missed it or aren’t one of the dozen Texans who play hockey, the NHL had something of a mumps outbreak a few months ago. That’s fine for Canada’s favorite sport, but it will not do for baseball. To that end, the Texas Rangers are taking no chances. “As a result [of the NHL scare], a whole bunch of folks throughout the organization will be getting mumps/measles/rubella boosters or vaccinations,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “Senior director of medical operations Jamie Reed estimated that as many as 15 percent of the staff and players either haven’t had the MMR vaccination or no longer have the necessary antigens to combat the disease.” While baseball has got steroid testing down to a congressionally investigated science, “there is no standard MLB policy on testing players for the diseases.”