The State of Texas: November 26, 2014
Texas By The Numbers
Job Crazy — Number of jobs added to state in October: 35,200. Number of record-setting months: three. Total, non-farm jobs for the year: 421,900. Unemployment: 5.1 percent. Same time last year: 6.2 percent.
Casse-poll — Percentage of Texans that said they love green bean casserole in a recent survey: 65 percent. Rank among other states: Fourteenth. Just ahead: Kansas. Just behind: Maryland.
Hard Texas — Hardest county in Texas to live in, according to a recent analysis: San Augustine County. Its rank among the country’s 3,135 counties: 3,005. Average income: $27,580. Percentage of college graduates: 11.1 percent. Obesity rate: 44 percent. Highest ranked Texas county: Collin County. Average income: $83,238. College graduates: 49 percent. Obesity rate: 30 percent.
Ferguson, Tex. — Missouri’s pretty far away, but the recent fiasco, particularly the decision by the local grand jury to not indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, is resonating coast to coast. The Houston Chronicle takes a look at similar grand jury decision involving police and notes that, based on those results, “there shouldn’t have been much mystery surrounding the panel’s decision.” According to the piece, “The last time an HPD officer was charged for a shooting was in March 2004” and “Since then, Houston police officers have been cleared by Harris County grand juries at least 288 consecutive times for shootings. … More than a quarter of the 121 civilians shot by HPD from 2008 to 2012 also shared one important fact with Brown’s death: They were unarmed.” The Ferguson decision coincides with the “Dallas Police Department’s new website detailing 12 years of shootings by police,” reports the Dallas Morning News. The website, while a little simple, does show “12 years of basic information on the shootings — the who, what, where, when and how. They also list the ethnicity of the officers and suspects, as well as grand jury disposition.”
Hurricane Effects — Six years ago, Galveston was thoroughly torn up by Hurricane Ike. The lessons of that disaster, however, have not been learned. “Six years on, Galveston and Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, are as vulnerable as when Ike hit,” reports Reuters in a pretty comprehensive takedown. “No major projects are under way to fend off surging seas.” A proposed Ike dike “remains the leading proposal for coastal defense,” with the support of nineteen area cities and towns. The reason it’s not being built? Bureaucratic red tape (and maybe, too, the $6 billion price tag). “The paralysis in Texas reflects a troubling truth: The United States lacks a unified national response to the threat posed by rising sea levels. The policy vacuum leaves vulnerable communities to come up with their own self-defense plans and then hope to snag federal dollars before the next big storm.” As for how the Gulf area became susceptible to the ravages of hurricanes and the area’s bleak future in environmental defense, the Reuters piece paints a pretty devastating picture that’s worth a read.
After Further Review … — Looks like former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach won’t get his replay. “A Texas appeals court denied the appeal Friday” by Leach. The ruling affirms a Lubbock trial court’s September 2013 summary judgment in favor of Craig James, ESPN and Speath Communication, Inc.,” according to the Amarillo Globe-News. “Leach sued the defendants in 2010, accusing them of defamation and causing his termination from the university.” The justices found that Leach provided no substantial evidence of defamation and that the “decision to terminate Leach came after the former coach contacted the news media and disparaged Tech,” and after, you know, Leach made a player suffering concussion stand inside a shed during practice. “Leach could send appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, which may hear his case at its discretion. However, a decision has not yet been made to bring the case to the state’s highest court.”
Real Dog Fight — One man is fighting the absurdity of our lawsuit-loving legal system. “Steve Baker says he’s willing to do whatever it takes to avoid settling a lawsuit filed by the owner of four pit bulls that killed his beloved beagle—even if that means taking on the burden himself. To that end, Baker said Monday he had withdrawn a claim he filed with his insurance company,” writes the Galveston County Daily News. “The Bakers were served with [Emerald] White’s [$1 million] lawsuit Nov. 12, about three weeks after Bailey, the beagle, was ‘shaken like a rag doll’ and killed by White’s four pit bulls. … White claims she was seriously injured when she was ‘unexpectedly and viciously attacked’ by the beagle in the Bakers’ backyard as she attempted to retrieve her dogs, which had entered through a hole in the fence, according to court documents.” Baker’s lawyer has submitted a perfectly reasonable reponse claiming it was the vicious pitbulls that injured the negligent owner. “If this case was something even close to legitimate, I would let it go,” Baker said. “But this is a money grab.”