The State of Texas: May 8, 2014
Video of the Day
If campaign ads get more personal than this one, they certainly don’t get any funnier. Just in time for his final debate against Lietenant Governor Dan Patrick, the David Dewhurst team has released a video that is part political attack, part Disney musical, part South Park. In short, “Dan Patrick” sings about his former self, a.k.a. DJ “Dannie Goeb,” to the tune of the Frozen’s most popular number “Let It Go.” There’s even some amazing vintage footage of DJ Goeb and body paint. Behold:
Debate Royale — Forget mudslinging. The lite guv primary runoff between David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick turned into something more akin to a back-alley knife fight. By all accounts, things got pretty personal pretty fast during the final debate in Dallas. “The debate began with Patrick calling out Dewhurst for using a ‘photo of him without a shirt at a charity event as part of an attack ad,'” reports WFAA, which hosted the Wednesday debate. Although he didn’t apologize for the video’s content—or to the Texas citizens who might’ve seen the ad—Dewhurst said he apologized to organizers of the charity auction where the photo was taken. The debate also included one of best campaign promises ever made. “I, as lieutenant governor, would not go to McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal in the middle of a pro-life debate,” said Patrick, refering to Dewhurst’s dinner-gate during the heated abortion filibuster that put Wendy Davis on the map. Dewhurst responded shortly thereafter with: “That is really nuts.” The candidates discussed policy, too. Silly things like equal pay, illegal immigrants and abortion, issues which may or may not be somewhat significant during the next legislative session. For those who the show, there will be reruns Sunday and Wendesday. The runoff election itself is May 27.
Frackless — Our state’s natural gas and oil boom has seen companies taking over entire towns and possibly causing a record-number of earthquakes in small communites. It now appears that locals are making a real effort to take back the land. Denton, which “sits on top of the Barnett Shale, believed to hold one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., could become the first area in the state to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing,” according to the Associated Press. “A recently adopted temporary ban is in place until September, but fracking opponents want to make that permanent through an ordinance that would prohibit the practice in Denton.” The ban wouldn’t be all-out since the 275 wells already operating would be grandfathered in. How likely is the permanent ban? The petition turned into city hall yesterday had “1,936 signatures … or about 81 percent of the turnout in the last municipal election,” according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. The city council now has two months to hold public hearings and vote on a measure.
The Ghost Of Michael Brown — Even in death, eccentric hand surgeon Michael Brown is still causing drama. A Miami-based Russian artist known as “Anastasia the Great” was jailed in Houston yesterday for failing to appear at a court hearing. “Ronald Sommers, the court-appointed trustee overseeing Brown’s assets during the bankruptcy proceeding, wants to hear her testimony about money she allegedly received from the late, wealthy hand surgeon,” according to the Associated Press. It gets better. “[T]he trustee’s investigators performed a ‘sophisticated fingerprint extraction process’ on $77,000 in cash that was found at [Anastasia the Great’s] home … The trustee anticipates comparing the fingerprints extracted from the cash to Dr. Brown’s fingerprint records to determine whether Dr. Brown handled the money.” No, it gets better. According to documents, Brown visited Anastasia the Great and “delivered a reddish-gray suitcase with a fabric exterior containing about $1 million in cash, his collection of about 45 watches and eight Fredrick Hart sculptures.” Maybe there will be another estate auction!
Illegal American Airlines — Despite its catch-and-release efforts in the face of illegal immigrants crossing the border in droves, local border patrol units in McAllen and Brownsville are still overwhelmed. So they’ve come up with yet another solution: Put the deportees on a three-hour flight to El Paso for processing. It’s the first time the border patrol has tried such an effort, but at this point, they’re looking for any kind of fix, permanent or not. “The flight of more than 100 detainees from Brownsville was the most recent way the agency is trying to expedite processing under a surge of arrests that has recently averaged 1,000 per day in the Rio Grande Valley sector, the busiest along the U.S.-Mexico border,” according to the Associated Press. “The effort began with busing immigrants to less-busy stations within the sector, then expanded to hours-long bus rides to the Laredo and Del Rio sectors for processing.” Said an exasperated border patrol spokesman: “”We’re utilizing all of the resources that we have available.”
99 Problems and a Wife Ain’t One of ‘Em — The Associated Press goes deep with a story about the recently passed state law banning proxy marriages, which almost exclusively affects prisoners. In effect since September 2013, the law banning the use of a stand-in is a cruel Catch-22 since it “requires both parties to be present during a marriage ceremony, and the Texas prison system doesn’t allow ceremonies in its facilities.” While “Officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice say the prison system has no plans to change its rules,” experts seem to think the law doesn’t stand a chance against a legal challenge. “The U.S. Supreme Court has addressed the question at least twice — in a Wisconsin case in 1978, and 11 years later in a Missouri prisoner’s case — upholding the right to marry.” The law apparently came about because of a single case of marriage fraud (poor guy was married without his knowledge!) unrelated to prisoners. So, now, we have a new distinction. “Texas appears to be alone among states with the large prison populations in refusing to allow inmates to marry at its prisons.”