The State of Texas: May 1, 2014
Today in History
The Dallas Mavericks are 34! On May 1, 1980, they became twenty-third team to join the NBA. Ignoring for a moment the courtside antics of current owner Mark Cuban, the Mav’s have matured quite well. After all, their inaugural record was 15-67. For you sports history buffs, here the Dallas Morning News‘s retrospective from the Mav’s thirty-third birthday.
Gummit Pork Thursday
Late last week, Buzzfeed published its best investigative work since “14 Cats That Think They’re Sushi.” Turns out Texas Representative Ralph Hall, the oldest serving congressman, “spent more than $33,000 in campaign funds on orders from Honey Baked Foods and Godiva Chocolatier.” As explained by one of Hall’s campaign advisers: “They’re Christmas gifts. … That’s how Ralph works. He likes Christmas.”
Photos of the Day
Galveston beach has suffered “a relentless three-day onslaught of seaweed that piled up on beaches at a rate not seen in years, leaving mounds of Sargassum several feet high in places,” so much that even this bulldozer is having difficult conquering:
Quality Control — Texas and its officials backing lethal injections were put on the defensive after Oklahoma’s botched execution made national headlines Wednesday. The Texas Tribune has discovered that the drug used in Oklahoma, midazolam, “is stored by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice,” which has “approximately 30 vials of the drug and the expiration date for them is 2015” and that it “can be used at any time in the state’s death penalty protocol.” Midazolam is part of a three-drug cocktail that Texas stopped using in 2012, replaced by the all-in-one pentobarbital. As expected, public alarm by anti-death penalty advocates was loud, particularly since opponents of death row have lost a series of court battles recently, including one that would require the public disclosure of Texas’s own lethal injection drugs. In response, the TDCJ released a statement saying that it has “no plans to change our procedures.” This was seconded by both Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott. “We monitor our system very carefully to make sure we never have happen in Texas what happened in Oklahoma,” Abbott said. “The protocol in Texas is different … It’s like comparing apples and oranges.” But, as the antiquity writer Publilius Syrus once said: As men and fruit, we are all equal in the presence of death.
Rehabilitation — The hits keep on coming for the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management. Trouble began almost a fortnight ago, when the Houston Chronicle revealed that the OVSOM planned to build a facility for two dozen of the state’s most dangerous sex offenders, without telling the community. Since then, the agency’s presiding board member has resigned. And in an ironic twist, the Chronicle reported Wednesday that the embattled director Allison Taylor, has hired the same lawyer that “criticized the operation as unconstitutional and, until last week, had been assisting some offenders with the lawsuits against the office and his new client.” Yesterday, Governor Perry appointed “former prosecutor Katie McClure to the governing board” of the agency that he said has a “leadership vacuum.” And that vacuum may soon suck up its director. According to the Chronicle, which really has done a stellar job reporting on this controversy, “the three-member governing board of the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management has scheduled a Saturday meeting to take up the ‘evaluation, employment, appointment and/or termination.'”
It’s Aliiive — It’s a doggone mystery … a dog day afternoon … a … well, it’s a really odd scandal happening in Fort Worth. Yesterday, numerous outlets reported that a popular Fort Worth vet was allegedly keeping a sick dog alive, for possibly a year, for the use of blood transfusion. “Acting on the complaint, Fort Worth police and officers from the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners raided the clinic Tuesday,” according to the Star-Telegram. A warrant for animal cruelity was issued to the vet, who turned himself in. The vet, however, says it’s “all a bunch of hooey” and that the accusations are coming from a disgruntled employee who “wanted to get me.” The former employee stands by her claim, saying “I knew the truth, and I quit because of it … I’d had enough. Right is right and wrong is wrong.” The vet has his supporters, who seem to love him but “acknowledged that he is a little eccentric.” For what it’s worth, the dog is alive and back with the couple that made the hard decision to put him down.
How Far the Apple Falls — Jonathan Treviño, the son of former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, was sentenced to seventeen years for his involvement in the Panama Unit Scandal. Jonathan Treviño, described as the “ringleader” by prosecutors, received both the severest sentence in the scandal and the severest tongue lashing from the judge. “‘What you all have done is disgrace us,’ Crane said, concluding the nearly five-hour hearing Wednesday on the ninth floor of Bentsen Tower,” according to The Monitor. “’And sentencing you to prison isn’t ever going to bring back the damage that has been done to our community, and what people think of the Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement.’” As The Monitor put it, “The Panama Unit corruption scandal started and ended with Jonathan Treviño.”
Slam Dunk — Myles Turner, one of the very best high school basketball players in the country, has made The Decision. In the fall he’s going to take his talents to University of Texas. There was plenty of hand-wringing before, as evidenced by the Austin American-Statesman‘s piece, noting Turner’s silence leading up to his choice: “What’s the hold up? Why won’t he make a decision? All the speculation prompted another question: Is he even worth it?” Yes, according to just about every ranking of high school players, which all have Turner in the top ten. Unlike King James, however, Turner seems pretty low-key about his efforts. At his announcement, he wore a silly burnt orange fishing hat in a rather dorky way. He also said, “I will be pursuing my education and excited to be a part of the men’s basketball program at … the University of Texas,” putting school, literally, before basketball. As if any UT fan needs confirmation, guard Isaiah Taylor made it clear. “He’s a cool dude.”