The State of Texas: October 28, 2014
Video of the Day
It’s been floating around the internet for a couple days already, but some shaky video footage proves once again that Dallas is full of kind, loving people. At the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, a man was caught on camera attacking another gentleman for being “gay” (because he was wearing a pink shirt or something). After giving kick and taking a swing, a whole crowd of people took out the ignorant, hateful redneck and held him down as police cuffed him. And, sorry, internet, that is not actor Paul Rudd coming in with the assist.
Daily Show Tuesday
The Daily Show is spending a week in Texas, because we’re basically the same thing as New York City. They’re dubbing their Austin episodes “Democalypse 2014: South by South Mess.” On Monday, gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott made an appearance. Kidding! The Stewart acolytes would never allow that. It was Wendy Davis, who refused to consider an almost certain loss. An extended interview is available online. Other upcoming guests include U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro, Spoon, and that kid from Boyhood.
Crime Stoppers — Dallas is making a serious effort not only to stop crime but, even more surprisingly, be more transparent. The DPD announced yesterday, it “will begin posting thorough data and information on shootings by officers over the past 12 years online beginning next month,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “A mini-site with all the details will be posted on the official Dallas police website (dallaspolice.net) and the department’s blog (DPDBeat.com). Police officials already usually post brief narratives on the shootings, but police say they are hoping to include more details.” What a little crazy is that “Dallas police have had 19 shootings by police this year — most of which occurred over the summer,” although “several have been shoot-and-miss incidents, meaning nobody was injured.” In addition to this push for transparency, another bit of good news is DPD has seen a large drop in the murder rate this year. The department “tallied 86 murders through Sept. 30 — a 27 percent drop from the 118 murders on the same date last year,” according to another DMN news report. The police chief said the figure was on track being the lowest in the city’s history and reflects “a substantial decrease in crime no matter how you want to look at it.” He’s not kidding. “Police officials also say burglary is down 23 percent. Robberies are reportedly down about 14 percent. Theft is down about 14 percent, too.” Keep it up, Dallas, and one day you may even get an Olympics.
Ebola Watch: Day 27 — It was inevitable that New York City would brag that its handling Ebola better than Dallas or Texas. The Associated Press got on the bandwagon with a compare-and-contrast piece detailing how the two cities prepared and executed Ebola plans. At least the piece makes it clear in the first sentence that “A Dallas hospital got a pop quiz in Ebola and made an early mistake. New York got a peek at the answer sheet and was better prepared at the start.” That said, we didn’t have the greatest response, particularly with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. With not much left to report, CNN got into the listicle game, this one a uncomfortable look at the hospitals “confusing and sometimes misleading statements.” It is not pretty. On the bright side, Texas has produced another strong and healthy nurse. University of Texas at Arlington graduate Kaci Hickox, who was detained and packaged up like ET in New Jersey upon her return from Africa (but tested negative), will be going to Maine for an at-home quarantine. Full of that Texas spirit, Hickox has vocally criticized her tent quarantine as “inhumane” and “completely unacceptable.” And like a true American, her lawyer hasn’t ruled out legal action.
Back In Action — Save the gay date. Because Texas hasn’t been through enough the abortion legal battle, 2015 is already being prepped as the of the gay marriage batte. Not that anyone’s happy to have to be waiting that long. “The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals tentatively scheduled oral arguments in the Texas and Louisiana gay marriage cases for early January, disappointing local advocates and possibly delaying until 2016 a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. “Texas gay marriage advocates were disappointed with the Monday announcement. The New Orleans-based appeals court had earlier agreed to expedite the hearing, and the appellees hoped oral arguments would be scheduled before the new year.” One lesbian couple in the case has a very good reason for wanting the case to be expedited — they’re coming up against an adoption deadline that will cause serious financial and legal problems should they be barred from equal parenting rights. “Many agree a circuit court split of this kind is most likely to occur in the Fifth or Sixth Circuits, seen as the two most conservative appeals courts in the country,” which means the case’s will be able to quickly make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court for what will presumably be a defeat of marriage bans.
Familiar Ground — And, unfortunately, that ground is drier than sand. Governor Rick Perry “renewed a 2011 drought declaration for much of the state due to continued, prolonged drought conditions,” reports NBC. “The renewal of the proclamation said the exceptional drought conditions pose an imminent disaster in a number of Texas counties.” According to science, i.e. the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, “much of North Texas and areas to the west remain under extreme or exceptional drought. Most of the state is at least under abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions.” So, remember, no lighting up bags of poop this Halloween, as it might just burn down the whole state.
The People’s Lawyer — Yes, it’s a Dallas day, but it’s impossible not to mention a fascinating DMN profile of Katie Sprinkle, “the only known openly transgender lawyer in Dallas County and one of just a handful across Texas.” Last year, after sixteen years as a public defender, Sprinkle opened up her own law firm. It also marked the first time she practiced law as a she. “In addition to her criminal defense practice, she’s become a go-to lawyer for transgender issues at a time when transgender people are getting more attention than ever in mainstream media … Sprinkle, 47, uses her unique perspective to empathize with clients and guide them through the legal challenges of transitioning genders.” As the story notes, Sprinkle is “one of six openly transgender attorneys licensed to practice in Texas” and her case is unique since she transitioned well into her career. Lest anyone think the transition has changed Sprinkle all that much, she happily says, “I’m still the same smart ass I was before — I just have cuter shoes.”