The State of Texas: November 11, 2015
Mass indictments issued in Waco shootout case, and Port Neches-Groves ISD fights off ”leftist extremists.”
Quote of the Day
“I’ll put on my rawhide underwear and take all the chewings.”
— Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on his agency’s fee hikes
It’s been a great week for UFO sightings. A few days ago, a mysterious light was seen over Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California (don’t worry, it was just a missile test flight!). Now Houston has its own UFO, or, at the very least, mysterious lights that someone managed to capture on Twitter video. As they’ve so eagerly done time and again, the Houston Chronicle was all over the story, providing a wonderful slideshow examining the Unidentified Flying Object from every possible angle.
houston we got a problem . . . y'all look closely pic.twitter.com/vbmeNSlFlu
— Raddd (@Im_Raddd) November 10, 2015
Texas By the Numbers
Home Base — Number of Texas locales named in Forbes‘s list of top cities for veteran careers: three. Houston’s rank: third. Dallas’s rank: ninth. San Antonio’s: tenth.
What Integrity? — The Texas government’s overall ranking from the State Integrity Investigation: 38th. Rank for public access to information: 48th. Lobbying disclosure: 45th. Electoral Oversight: 45th. State’s best categories: Internal auditing and state budget processes. Rank: 4th.
White Housing — Rate of white home ownership in Texas: 58.8 percent. Portion of white housing occupation in Texas: 51.8 percent. Hispanic home ownership: 27.7 percent. Portion of Hispanic housing occupation: 30.6 percent. Black home ownership: 8.3 percent. Portion of black housing occupation: 12. 5 percent.
Mass Indictments — The grand jury for Waco’s biker shootout in May has finally issued indictments, and pretty much everyone identified has some ‘splainin to do. After “a marathon nine-hour session,” the McLennan County grand jury issued 106 indictments, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. That’s a 100 percent success rate by the prosecution presenting the cases! So what about the 80 bikers arrested after the incident who weren’t included in those indictments? Don’t worry, say officials, “the grand jury will return to consider charges against the other 80 bikers arrested on identical charges.” As the story notes, “the indictments, like the arrest warrant affidavits filed to support the 177 bikers arrested, are identical” alleging that “the defendants engaged in organized criminal activity by intentionally or knowingly causing the death of an individual,” which is a first-degree felony. The hours-long grand jury session was necessary to ensure the bikers and their associates were indicted before the 180-day mark of the shooting, after which there could have been “a flurry of motions from attorneys seeking relief for their clients.” Despite the criticism surrounding the slow process with the indictments, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna is unfazed. “I’m not worried about the people on social media. I’m worried about the facts, the law and the evidence.”
Impossible is Nothing — Just how much does Port Neches-Groves ISD love its controversial Indian Spirit mascot? So much that they would rather keep it than accept money and support from one of the word’s most famous sports brands. “Adidas, a German multinational sportswear corporation, announced last week that it would give free design resources and financial assistance to any of the about 2,000 high schools in the country that use a logo or mascot drawn from Native American imagery or symbolism,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. The response from PN-G Superintendent Rodney Cavness, was unequivocal: “Changing it would be tapering down to political correctness of leftist extremists and we’re not going to do that here,” he said. Fun fact: the ISD is 78.3 percent white and less than one percent Native American. Apart from his assumption that being aware of the issues and concerns of minority groups is somehow part of a plot by “leftist extremists,” Cavness probably isn’t totally wrong to question Adidas’s motives. “They’re all about making a dollar and selling a brand,” he said. “That’s what’s driving them to do it.”
A Safer Bet? — Odds on the Texas Racing Commission surviving just got a little better. “Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed two new members and reappointed another to the commission that regulates the state’s horse and dog racing tracks,” according to the Dallas Morning News, which calls the move “a hint of progress in the standoff” between the TRC and state legislators. The fight is over the TRC’s use of “historic betting,” a game not that dissimilar from slot machines. The TRC had its funding taken away, then restored, back in September. “It wasn’t immediately clear where the two new commissioners – Boerne businesswoman Margaret Martin and Borderplex Alliance CEO Rolando Pablos of El Paso — stand on the issue. The re-appointee, Simonton veterinarian Gary Aber, voted in favor of historical racing.” Based on comments by State Senator Jane Nelson, it sounds like legislators really don’t want to lose out on the hundreds of millions ($438 million in 2014) bettors drop on dog and horse racing in Texas. Last week, the Legislative Budget Board extended the TRC’s budget for another ninety days, though there are still plenty of kinks to work out. “Court documents are still being filed in the attempt to appeal a judge’s ruling that historical racing terminals weren’t legal. No decision on that is likely before the first of the year.”