Official Disaster — Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Bastrop County on Thursday as fires raged on for the third day. Abbott announced “that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse up to 75 percent of costs spent fighting the fire through a grant,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. “State resources also began arriving Thursday. Two Black Hawk and two Chinook helicopters began dropping water in the morning. Also on the way are 24 federal emergency managers, eight bulldozers from Florida, four bulldozers from Georgia and three Texas firefighting teams with fire engines.” So far, the fire has burned nearly 4,400 acres, destroyed at least 34 homes, and is only 25 percen contained. As KVUE notes, a “total of 158 people have registered for shelter at the Smithville Rec Center.” There’s still plenty of fight left, too. The Statesman reported that Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape told a local crowd, “This fire event is not over; it’s not even near over. If you’re a praying person, I ask you to pray.”
Penalty — The football referee targeting drama continued at a UIL hearing Thursday. “University Interscholastic League has voted unanimously to suspend the assistant coach and publicly reprimand the head coach involved,” according to KVUE. “The committee suspended assistant coach Mack Breed from extra-curricular activities for the 2015-16 school year with a two year probation period. The committee also decided to give head coach Gary Gutierrez a public reprimand and probation for two years.” The punishments, like hits, just kept on coming as the two players responsible for carrying out the attack on the referee were suspended from UIL play for the rest of the year. The sophomore will be allowed to return next year, if he appears before UIL officials (both players failed to appear at the hearing Thursday). “We wanted to have the opportunity to visit with those young men, not only to hear their side of the story, but to make sure they understand the significance of what they did,” said the committee chairman, according to KPRC. The referee who was hit, Robert Watts, was at the meeting and again denied that he used any racial slurs against the players. Breed said that while he never specifically told the players to hit the referee, he did say “This [curse word] has got to pay a price” to no one in particular.
Black and Blue Texas — Thursday was a busy day in Texas politics. First a visit by Hillary Clinton, who was officially endorsed by Julián Castro at an event in San Antonio. Texas Monthly‘s Erica Grieder examines the most interesting question of the day, whether or not this move was part of a larger plan for a Clinton-Castro 2016 ticket. Less interesting was the rally itself, which had all the spontaneous surprise that Clinton is known for. For a little excitement (a relative term), you might look to Rick Perry’s dead and decaying presidential campaign, which released its end-of-days figures. In its death throes, the campaign “spent nearly four times as much as it raised,” the Texas Tribune reports. “Perry’s campaign reported raising $287,000 and spending $1.1 million, leaving him with $45,000 at the end of the quarter. Among Perry’s largest expenses was $200,000 to … an Austin-based firm owned by his former campaign manager, Jeff Miller. In its last campaign finance report, Perry’s campaign said it paid nearly $400,000 to the firm, which offered a variety of services such as video production and website development.” So maybe not money well spent, but at least we got a show! In political news closer to home, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick finalized interim projects for the Senate this week. Assignments include school choice, sanctuary cities, religious liberty, and everyone’s favorite subject, fetal tissue! In other words, 2017 should be real fun.