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The State of Texas: October 21, 2014

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Video of the Day

Everybody loves a good demolition, and Sunday, the Houston Club, an “an 18-story steel and concrete structure” in downtown Houston was the main attraction. The Houston Business Journal has video, with an unseen woman in the background providing the necessary commentary: “Wow, wow. That’s it? Wow.”

Daily Roundup

Texas Massacre — It’s not exactly how we want to be known in other states, but it appears a Texas-born man is the latest American serial killer to be apprehended. Darren Vann has reportedly confessed to murdering seven women in Indiana after police began to investigate the death of a nineteen-year-old, whose profession as a prostitute is all too common in the serial killer literature. Vann has been living in Indiana since 2013. Before that, “Vann was a convicted sex offender in [Austin] Texas, where he pleaded guilty to raping a woman in 2009,” reports the Associated Press. Although “police have no specific indication that any slayings have occurred in another state, and the Gary slayings appeared to have happened recently,” there some obvious concern about Vann’s past. “Austin detectives are going to review cold cases and missing person cases police think could be related to Darren Vann,” according to the Statesman. Vann was apparently a “low-level” offender registered with the Texas Department of Public Safety’s sex offender registry.

Mud Slinging And Thievery — A political consultant for the current lite guv, David Dewhurst, “Kenneth ‘Buddy’ Barfield is to plead guilty to wire fraud, making a false tax return and embezzlement of campaign funds,” according to the Statesman. “He faces up to 20 years in prison for the first charge and up to three and five years, respectively, on the others.” Meanwhile on the campaign trail, Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott are using just about any poor excuse to sling mud. Davis is slamming Abbott for his “wavering” answer on whether he’d defend states’ rights to ban interracial marriage. Because a politician with any sense would never answer such a explosive hypothetical (asked by the San Antonio Express-News editorial board), “Democrats quickly criticized his response, while supporters lambasted the question and said Abbott was doing what voters expected,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Team Davis might be better off focusing on their own team, however, since it seems the Hidalgo Democratic Party intentionally left Davis off a voter guide, according to the McAllen Monitor. The defense is that the group needed room for local candidates, which kind of makes sense if your gubernatorial candidate has run an embarrassingly bad campaign. Naturally, “Attorney General Greg Abbott, sent a news release Monday morning with an image of the flier.”

Ebola Watch: Day 20 — A mercifully slow, even positive, day in Ebola news. For starters, “43 people who had direct or indirect contact with the Liberian man who died here of Ebola were declared Ebola-free on Monday,” reports just about everyone. “‘There’s no question today is a milestone day,’ Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters Monday. He spoke for the first time of another ‘magic date’ officials were focusing on: Nov. 7, when all of those who are still being monitored in Texas, including dozens of nurses and other hospital workers, will have passed the 21-day maximum incubation period for the virus.” More happened in the heartwarming department when “four of the five children who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebloa, showed up to Dallas ISD schools on Monday, surprising school administrators who expected them to return Tuesday,” according to the Dallas Morning News. Apparently, the kids could not wait to get back to school. For now, it all sounds pretty positive. Those who may have heard that seventeen kindergarteners contacted Ebola can rest easy. The story, which circulated around, was a hoax by the National Report. The only thing dumber than the very detailed story is the commenters under the story. And just in time for that sexy Halloween costume, the Centers for Disease Control have revised their Ebola gear guidelines, which “call for face shields, hoods, boot covers and other garb that leave no part of the body exposed.”

Wyly Coyote — They don’t get much oilier than this. “Texas tycoon Sam Wyly has filed for bankruptcy, saying he does not have the assets to pay the nearly $300 million that U.S. regulators are demanding for his role in a fraudulent offshore scheme,” according to Reuters. It was just last month that a federal judge “ordered Wyly and the estate of his late brother Charles to pay damages of $187.7 million plus interest to the SEC, after a jury found them liable for fraud in May.” Wyly had dismissed concerns about his risky business strategy by saying “if the IRS ever challenged his position, he would litigate for years and settle for pennies on the dollar,” which, as Texas Monthly‘s own Loren Steffy so beautifully noted, “hasn’t quite worked out as he planned.” An initial hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, although “it was not immediately clear whether the bankruptcy filing could allow Wyly to reduce his debt to the SEC.”

Money Fair — It was another great year at the Texas State Fair, and not just because all of that great, greasy goodness. The fair’s “official sales numbers for this year’s 24-day run ended up being $1 million higher than its initial report of $41 million,” according to the Dallas Business Journal. “The fair broke its previous record of $37.3 million set in 2010. This year’s sales totaled $42 million in coupons for food and rides.” Pretty much every area of the fair’s operations saw an increase. “The number of creative arts contest entries increased 16 percent, totaling 9,309 entries; and the livestock department expanded its territory by 12 percent this year. It also had a record-setting sale at its 2014 Youth Livestock Auction.”

Clickity Bits

Despite Beautiful Financial Weather, Texas May Dip Into Rainy Day Fund

Texas Miracle Still the Greatest Business Blessing in the U.S.

Meet Fort Hood’s Eighty-Two-Year-Old ‘Hug Lady’

Texas Tech Investigating The True Meaning Of ‘Krunkness’ 

Did we miss something? Got a hot news tip? Send it our way: [email protected]. Or tweet Texas Monthly and Jeff Winkler

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