The State of Texas: Oct. 22, 2013
A petite blonde Texan named Davis has made international news. And surprise! It’s not Wendy. The New Yorker has a lengthy piece on Shannon Sedgwick Davis, the San Antonio philanthropist leading the hunt for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. Although bleeding-heart humanitarians’s hip viral campaign against the Evil Man du jour has been going on for a year, Davis has taken a more militant stance—her charitable organization is hiring mercenaries to train an army. The whole story is quite fascinating and worth a few extra minutes.
Early Voter Catches the Amendment — Early voting started yesterday for nine (count ’em!) new amendments to the Texas constitution, which continues to expand and overtake entire towns like The Blob. Although there are more propositions than you’ll find in a red light district, don’t fret. The Dallas Morning News has a nice lil’ roundup of all the proposals, including what proponents and opponents say. Read it while you’re in line. The biggest item, of course, is the proposed Rainy Day fund that would set aside about $2 billion for water-related projects, a pretty reasonable idea since we seem to be running out of it. If you do decide to get an early taste, don’t forget that you have to be a credentialed participant of democracy. The new (and controversial) voter ID law is in full effect. Should you be unable to find your drivers license or state issued ID, that’s ok. Your handgun license will do in a pinch. Democracy is cocked, locked, and ready to rock the vote.
Fetal Custody Battle — It’s day two of courthouse arguments in Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the state’s recent abortion restrictions. If Monday was any indication, things could get wild, legally speaking. In its argument to the judge, the state all but admitted that, during the debate this summer, it played the part of sleazy pickup artist. “In urging a federal judge not to delay enforcement of the law, Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell said abortion rights activists are wrong that it only was passed to make undergoing an abortion safer,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “He said it ‘also served to advance the state’s interest in protecting fetal life.'” Kind of a bold statement, since it was stressed by every proponent, from Perry on down, that the restrictions were really about womens’s best interests, not moral ideology. For its part, the plaintiffs “offered no opening statement” and instead produced witnesses with what seems little more than character testimony. Expect another packed courtroom during this Trial of the Century Month.
Roadside Karma — Now who’s ashamed of their toll debts? As TxDOT continues shaming toll-skippers, Moody’s Investors Service is shaming the toll-takers. On Monday, Moody’s downgraded the credit rating of the company that built and operates the toll road Texas 130. Not only that, but “the ratings agency raised the possibility of [the company] … defaulting on its debt unless traffic increases on the Central Texas road.” Texas 130’s new credit rating is now, rather cruelly, “junk status.” Perhaps this explains TxDOT’s frantic attempt to collect the $27 million from toll violators.
As Giants Fall — Another day, another Texas legend goes to that Big Gridiron in the Sky. Bud Adams, the second-generation oil tycoon and one of the founders of the American Football League, died Monday. The owner of the Tennessee Titans (nee Texas Oilers), Adams was pretty Texan. That is, a bit of a shit-kicker. To many, he was “a controversial, divisive figure who battled with city officials and fellow owners from the 1960s through the 1990s and, eventually, took his team and left town,” notes Houston Chronicle‘s David Barron. In its own obituary, the New York Times does recall some of the ways in which the cantankerous Adams left a positive mark: “I called [a Houston Post sports columnist] a couple of names; then he said something back to me … so I just went over and cold-cocked him.” Hope you’re taking notes, Jerry Jones.
The New-Old West — Cattle rustling is up by 35 percent from previous years—roughly 10,000 head have been pilfered, according to the Longview News-Journal. The whole piece is a fact-filled overview of the long-time Texas tradition of bovine thievery. Takes us back to 2006, when Texas Monthly‘s own Skip Hollandsworth wrote one of the best accounts of cattle rustling. The story, about the most surprisingly polite, inexperienced, and successful contemporary Texas thieves is a great read—even if the title, “The Last Rustler” may now need to be amended.