The State of Texas: May 7, 2014
Photo of the Day
A car dealership in Longview has a big ol’ typo in the sign hovering over the business. Their solution? Rather than fixing the sign, they’re just donating that amount to the East Texas Literacy Council, according to KLTV. Can you spot the mistake:
Texas by the numbers
Less-Than-Whole Foods — The grocery store’s per-share income for the second quarter: 38 cents. Original prediction: 41 cents. Price of shares at beginning of day: $48.24. Price of shares at close of trading: $41.18. Price drop of shares after this year’s first-quarter report: $4. Reason for continuous drop in growth: unexplained.
Willie’s Ride — Original asking price for bus associated with Willie Nelson 1983 tour: $29,999. Final sale: $80,000. Amount Willie Nelson’s 1986 tour bus sold for: $43,700. Loonie amount, since the car was sold in Canadian: $47,580.
The Journalist Screenwriter and the Murderer — In 1997, Texas Monthly‘s own Skip Hollandsworth was working on a story about murderer Bernie Tiede, shaking his head in disbelief over the facts and attitudes surrounding the case. He shook his head again fourteen years later when director Richard Linklater turned his story into the cult hit Bernie. Now, our man Skip is shakin’ his head again. At a hearing yesterday, a judge released “the 55-year-old Bernie from prison on $10,000 personal recognizance bond.” What’s more, Linklater “took the witness stand, and dropped a bombshell. He said that he would let Bernie live in his garage apartment.” Bernie’s being let out on bond because a judge agreed that had evidence of the man’s childhood sexual abuse been presented in the original trial, he might have gotten a lower sentence. Even Bernie’s “hard-nosed” prosecutor said that if he’d known about the abuse, he would’ve charged Bernie with a lesser crime, for which he’d be three-years away from complete repentance. Skip relays the most commonly held feeling of this new development, relayed to him by a Los Angeles Times reporter: “I don’t even know where to start … Who’s ever heard of such a thing happening—all because of a movie?”
Repeat Request — As anyone who follows the news about capital punishment might have predicted, a federal civil rights lawsuit was filed by lawyers of a Texas death row inmate, declaring that “Texas prison officials must reveal the source of their lethal injection drugs to avoid an incident ‘as horrific’ as last week’s bungled execution in Oklahoma,” according to the Associated Press. How far is this lawsuit likely to go? Not very. State political leaders from both parties have said the national news-making incident by our neighbors to the north wouldn’t affect their positions or policies regarding executions. What’s more, the argument has made before. “[The inmate’s] lawyers argue that the problem is the secrecy surrounding the drugs, and that the drug supplier’s name is necessary to obtain and test the efficiency of the drugs — arguments that have been rejected by federal courts in Texas and other states in recent months.”
Released, Red-Handed — There’s no blood on the hands of a Dallas slaughterhouse company, legally speaking. Yesterday, a state district judge dismissed the case against Columbia, which had been accused of intentionally dumping pigs’ blood in a local tributary in 2012. Instead, “Columbia will plead guilty to a misdemeanor and will pay a $100,000 fine. The company admitted to violating the water code with an unauthorized discharge,” according to the Dallas Morning News. A Dallas city council member said the charges were dropped because “the case was ‘mishandled’ by one of the investigating agencies but he did not know specifics.” Last month, charges against Columbia’s vice president were dismissed and the same is expected for another VP. On the bright side: “Columbia has reopened but no longer serves as a slaughterhouse.”
Make It Rain, Now! — No time to tease this story: “Texas Comptroller Susan Combs is pressing the state’s strip clubs to cough up millions of dollars she says they owe under a new ‘pole tax’ even though the $5-a-patron fee still faces a court challenge,” according to the Texas Tribune. The strip club lobby has been fighting this sin tax, ostensibly “as a way to fund programs for sexual assault victims and health caresince,” since it was first passed in 2007. First they tried to argue that “erotic dancing is a form of expression protected by the First Amendment.” The Texas Supreme Court disagreed. The “state maintains that the fee is not an occupation tax,” but the strip clubs’ latest lawsuit, currently before the Third Court of Appeals, claims that the tax is “unconstitutional because the fees are not used appropriately.” And we’re talking about quite a wad of dough: the state claims strip clubs are keeping as much as $44 million, and only $14 million has been handed over so far.