The State of Texas: November 13, 2014
Correction Of The Day
Be wary of making Star Wars references, one should. In what is possibly the best correction you’ll see for a long, long time, the Austin American-Statesman had to clear up a few things concerning an inaccurate dork reference. Anyone who’s anyone knows Han Solo was saving Luke Skywalker from hypothermia and not the other way around. Still, no matter who cut up the tauntaun, Han shot first.
It doesn’t get more heartbreaking, and heartwarming than this. A Fort Worth couple was married in the neonatal unit as their son, born four months premature, was “the ring bearer in a tuxedo onesie.” The couple had twins but one of the boys didn’t make it. Still, now there’s a family who coming closer, and getting stronger, by the day.
Restitution — It’s not much compensation for the loss of a loved one, but the family of Dallas’s and the country’s Ebola patient zero will receive a settlement from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. “Attorney Les Weisbrod declined to say at a news conference how much money the family would receive, but he said the settlement was a ‘very good deal’ that would provide for [Thomas] Duncan’s parents and his four children,” according to the Statesman. “Weisbrod also said Presbyterian hospital wasn’t charging Duncan’s family for his medical treatment.” Duncan, of course, had gone to the hospital with symptoms and even told health workers that he’d recently returned from Ebola-ravaged areas of Africa. “Despite this, he was released and sent home, which delayed his treatment for nearly three days and meant he was around people during a period when he had symptoms and was contagious,” writes the Washington Post. In addition to the undisclosed settlement, the hospital has set up a fund in Duncan’s name “intended to provide assistance to Ebola victims in West Africa.” The settlement is really the best that could come from the long and unfortunate events. “Duncan’s family would have faced a very high bar had they filed a lawsuit against Presbyterian hospital. Texas medical malpractice law places a $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages related to pain and suffering in almost all cases.” Duncan’s fiancee, Louise Troh, might not be eligible for any sort of litigious benefits but she will receive a little help. She has also signed a contract to write a memoir of her experience, reports the Associated Press. The book “will tell of her life with Duncan and how her faith had been ‘tested but not broken.'”
Action Affirmed — The University of Texas can still make admissions decisions based partly on race. Told to reconsider their decision by the Supreme Court, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals once again ruled in favor of UT in the case brought on by Abigail Fisher, whose test scores inspired her to sue the university back in 2008 (she’s since graduated from LSU and has entered the workforce). “The 10-5 ruling sets up a potential confrontation before the U.S. Supreme Court on the ever-contentious subjects of race, affirmative action and appropriate remedies for discrimination,” reports The Statesman. “Fisher’s case, which could have implications for college admissions nationally, has been bouncing between appellate courts since 2011, when the 5th Circuit Court determined that UT’s admissions policy was constitutional.” Fischer’s lawyer has promised that the case will indeed be presented before the nation’s highest principals, although Fisher’s chances don’t seem great since the Appeals Court has now ruled three times in the university’s favor.
Oops RX — The problem with appointing professionals to rule on important matters is that their recommendations might be a tough pill to swallow for those predispossed to partisan politics. “A board of medical professionals appointed by Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday that the state should provide health coverage to low-income Texans under the Affordable Care Act — a move the Republican-led Legislature has opposed,” reports the Texas Tribune. “The 15-member Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency recommended that the state’s health commissioner be authorized to negotiate a Texas-specific agreement with the federal government to expand health coverage to the poor, ‘using available federal funds.'” State Republicans, of course, have done their best to inoculate themselves against Obamacare and expanding Medicaid expansion funds. The diagnosis from the medical board couldn’t have been clearer, saying the state’s rate of uninsured was “unacceptable.” Not that any of this matters. “The board’s recommendations are not binding and any such decision is up to the Legislature.”
Classic Overreach — The drama over Highland Park’s book ban continues. Trying to meet erratic, literature-hating parents halfway, the school district is now issuing permission slips for reading, as “part of the response to an intense debate among parents over whether certain books are too mature for teens,” reports the Dallas Morning News. At first, certain, more contemporary books were placed under review. Now, as staff writer Melissa Repko, so wonderfully states, “parents must now give permission for their child to read the classics.” Those classics include Huck Finn, The Scarlett Letter, and A Farewell To Arms. It’s hard to imagine Hemingway is more dangerous than video games, continuous war, and the Kardashians. As the story makes clear, the school is basically accommodating parents who seem to think reading is really dangerous and that high school kids aren’t smart enough to handle the “mature” nature of words in the age of the Internet. Among other stop-gaps, the “English department froze course overviews so that teachers can’t make changes” and “teachers will no longer hand out a list of books for reading choices to avoid the appearance of endorsing or limiting books.” Thankfully, there’s one parent quoted who seems to have some sense. “Natalie Davis … said she also worries that controversy over mature themes could water down the rigor of English classes.” At least Texas has its science courses figured out.
Over And Done — Although former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño was sentenced back in July for his involment in the craziest police-and-drug scandal Texas has seen in awhile, the whole saga “could come to a close” today, reports The Monitor. The final chapter is the sentencing of former Commander Jose “Joe” Padilla, drug trafficker Tomas “El Gallo” Gonzalez and nine others involved in the scandal. “Padilla, often described as Treviño’s right-hand man, admitted in April to taking $90,000 in bribes from Gonzalez,” while the other nine defendants “have been identified by prosecutors as players in Gonzalez’s drug trafficking operation.” Padilla faces up to 10 years in prison.