The State of Texas: May 22, 2015
RadioPact – Since RadioShack is all but worthless, the one thing it did have of value was private customer information that its new owner had hoped to sell off. But thanks to the efforts of 39 states, led by Texas, the hedge fund owner will only be selling off customers’s emails addresses. “At least 50 million customer files will be destroyed [and] the new owner won’t have access to credit card data, Social Security numbers, birth dates or phone numbers,” according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “[The new owners] can keep email addresses supplied by customers seeking product information in the past two years, but people can opt out before that information is transferred to the new owner. Standard General won’t be allowed to share any of the data, including with Sprint.” Attorney General Ken Paxton called the deal, which apparently took some nine hours to mediate, “a victory for consumer privacy nationwide.”
Anger Brewing – You just can’t make a tea partier happy. In a “scathing” letter, the Texas Tea Party criticized the state’s top leaders for not being conservative enough during the legislative session. As the Associated Press notes, the letter “singled out Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus, saying if these ‘liberty-advancing, government-restraining bills die, once again, we will get excuses rather than results.’” Some of those complaints seem a little baffling, especially the one concerning abortion legislation, since you can’t get much more restrictive than what Texas already has in place. Other issues include border security and anti-immigration. “Frankly, we don’t care how hard or how long they have to work to get the job done, either,” reads the unforgiving letter. “Too many evenings, Fridays, and weekends have gone by with no committee meetings and no floor action for us to accept the tired and politically convenient excuse ‘we ran out of time.” And if anyone thought Lieutenant Governor Patrick’s advisory board was just his rebel army against mainstream conservatives like Abbott, think again. “Many signing the letter were members of Patrick’s Tea Party citizen’s advisory board,” according to Texas Public Radio.
Warning Bells – It looks like it was just a matter of time before Blue Bell ice cream got contaminated with something. The creamery “was warned of leaks and hygiene issues at its facilities as far back as 2009,” reports the Austin American-Statesman, which obtained documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “In 2009, an FDA visit to Blue Bell’s Brenham plant found condensation leaks above ice cream sandwich machines that could have potentially contaminated food. An inspector also observed a stainless steel pipe carrying liquid caramel leaking over an ice cream filler station” and structural issues with the plant. It appears that the FDA never really followed up with its list of violations and the company says it took all corrective measures. At the very least, they were “warning signs” and not necessarily the direct reason the ice cream would later be contaminated with Listeria. “While the earlier reports stop short of mentioning listeria, it’s the dangerous bacteria that inspectors worry can be spread by leaky condensation, plant construction and cleanliness issues. The leaky condensation concern is tantamount to a leaky roof and a familiar theme found again in the FDA’s 2015 reports.”
Decelerating – Hard to believe it’s almost been a full week since the Waco shootout, and now, just shy of seven days, there is already a lawsuit. The restaurant next door to the Twin Peaks were the chaos happened, Don Carlos, “is seeking compensation for damages to the property as well as past and future lost profits after the shootout forced the restaurant to close for three days,” according to the Waco Tribune. Now that the shock of the shootout itself has subsided, the incident is attracting even more scrutiny than a single lawsuit. “Legal experts are questioning the abnormally high bail amounts set for the 170 bikers being held … saying law enforcement officials’ strategy to keep them all in one place while they conduct a massive investigation is disrupting the lives of many innocent suspects,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. The AP notes too that in its search, it found that 115 of those arrest didn’t even have conviction records in Texas. “Although dozens of those arrested do have criminal records, 117 did not have any convictions listed under their names and birthdates in a database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.” Regardless of who’s an actual criminal and who isn’t, the shootout has clearly rattled everyone’s nerves, with numerous biker-related events being canceled this coming Memorial Day weekend, according to the Tribune.