The State of Texas: October 15, 2014
Since Halloween costume makers have never been known anything to be off-limits, it was inevitable. “For Johnathon Weeks, the CEO of mega-costume company BrandsOnSale, headlines inspired one of his company’s most popular costumes: Ebola,” writes the Atlantic. At least there doesn’t appear to be a “sexy” version of the outfit.
Texas By The Numbers
What Test? — Number of students who will graduate in three years without having taken the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills: 42,000. As a percentage: 23 percent. Number of Texas school districts whose percentage of test-less students is higher than 10.4 percent: 19.
Un-Energetic — Number of electric company consumer complaints this year: 7,608. Increase from last year: 7 percent. Percentage of complaints related to bill: 42 percent. Service and disconnection: 31 percent. Texas’s ranks in energe efficiency: 45th. In home energy efficiency: 34th In car-related energy efficiency: 44th.
Ebola Watch: Day 14 — Three people’s a crowd. Three people with Ebola is a terrifying situation. State and federal health officials announced today that an unidentified hospital worker at “Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for the virus in preliminary tests,” according to the New York Times. “The hospital worker was part of the medical team that cared for the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan.” Scary as it might be, a “second case of Ebola among the nearly 100 doctors, nurses and assistants who treated Mr. Duncan for 10 days at Presbyterian was not unexpected.” The tests on the worker were performed yesterday at a lab in Austin. Considering all the action’s happening in Dallas, it’s not unreasonable that “Dallas County Health Director Zach Thompson on Tuesday told Dallas County commissioners that testing for Ebola should be done locally,” since “the testing could be done better, faster and for less money,” reports the Dallas Business Journal. Already Dallas has spent more than “$1 million in overtime for staff, contracts with cleaning companies, and the use of the county’s emergency operations center,” to say nothing of the need for results done ASAP. Officials are currently monitoring 125 people for signs of Ebola. As for a little good news, it appears the condition of the first health care worker to be infected, nurse Nina Pham, has been upgraded to “good” (from “stable”) after her blood transfusion from the country’s first Ebola survivor.
Back-and-Forth — It’s become near impossible to keep up with the status of the state’s abortion clinics after HB2 went into effect. Closed. Open. Closed. Open. It’s enough to give someone whiplash. As it stands now, the clinics are open thanks to an emergency order by none other than the U.S. Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court’s order — five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices’ reasoning — represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over,” according to the New York Times. The order is in response to a temporary ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals declaring the state could shut down the clinics while the legality of the law itself is being debated. I.e. the Supreme Court order itself is temporary as well, at least until the Fifth Circuit official decides on the case. The Court addressed the requirement that all abortion clinics “meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers'” and “the other required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.” With those rules put on hold, a baker’s dozen of clinics can remain open. Or, rather, reopen, since they were immediately shut down about a week ago. At this rate, those seeking such assistance would do well just to stand outside the clinics so they can get in and out before another shutdown occurs.
Solution IDed — In more will-they-or-won’t-they news, it appears that at least one major Texas public policy problem has been solved. For now. Less than a week after a federal judge blocked the state’s new voter ID law for creating “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” that law is now … back on for the 2014 election. Thanks a lot, second federal judge! Actually it was three judges, again from the Fifth Circuit (they’re so busy lately!). The three-judge panel “granted a request by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for a stay on the judgment of U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos of Corpus Christi,” according to the Austin American-Statesman. “The appeals court’s action revives the law as early voting is set to begin Monday. Election Day is Nov. 4.” So, as of now—and unless for some reason the plaintiffs appeal for, and are granted, a stay from the SCOTUS just as the abortion providers did, be sure to bring all forms of official ID to the voting both, including retina scans, documentation of a complete health physical, and the detailed animal tag from your pet.
Parks and Altercation — If you thought needless, silly and downright stupid spending of public funds only happened in the upper echelons of government, you need a basic civics class. To be fair, though, it would seem someone in particular is in need of a basic class in civility, while another needs a class in sucking it up. “It will cost [the city of El Paso] nearly $7,000 to change the seats for a city councilwoman who doesn’t want to sit next to another member, because of her side remarks during meetings,” reports KSAT12. City councilwoman Ann Morgan Lilly is being relocated because she “was being distracted by comments that Rep. (Lily) Limón keeps making under her breath during the meetings, and I have to concentrate on what is being said during the council meetings.” According to the El Paso Times, “the money for this will come from the Public Educational and Governmental (PEG) budget.” Unlike other amounts of public funds, which sometimes take forever to go toward an actual project, this problem was taken of relatively quickly. Despite requests, Lilly said nothing happened until she put it on the council’s agenda, after which the matter was resolved rather quickly (and removed from the agenda). “So, the council members can pretty much sit where they want,” Lilly said. “Besides, there are extra places already cut out for additional computers in case we have to expand the number of City Council members in the future.” At this rate, the city may not be able to afford any more council members.