The State of Texas: October 28, 2015
The debate over sanctuary cities heats up, Bernie’s trial gets a new location, and Waco’s shootout-related bills start to mount.
Putdown of the Day
Quarterback Ryan Mallet has been let go by the Houston Texans in a less-than graceful maneuver. Still, it would seem the decision couldn’t have come soon enough, seeing as even local clock shops were taking pot shots:
— Ross Bolen (@WRBolen) October 27, 2015
Texas By The Numbers
Minor Issues — Percentage of targeted alcohol retailers in Houston that sold to minors as part of a TABC sting operation: 4.8 percent. In Dallas: 13 percent. Austin: 9.3 percent. San Antonio: 9.7 percent. Lubbock/El Paso/Amarillo: 5.9 percent. Statewide: 9 percent.
Big Drinkers on Campus — Number of arrests at the UT campus during the first three home games since beer and wine sales were allowed at Royal-Memorial Stadium: 22. Arrests in 2014: 13. In 2013: 35. In 2012: 26. Number of police calls during those games: 443. Increase from previous, comparable periods: 65.
Thirsty Texas — Amount of beer consumed in August, according to the TABC’s latest per capita and tax collection figures: 52,455,034 gallons. Same period last year: 50,629,498 gallons. Total amount of beer consumed in past eight months: 362.3 million gallons. Same period in 2014: 321.9 million gallons.
Migrant Migraines — The fight over immigration has reached far beyond the border. At the start of the week, Governor Greg Abbott suggested he’s going to go after sanctuary cities (after a little prodding from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick), and he aimed his ire at Dallas after its sheriff, Lupe Valdez, said she would no longer fully comply with federal procedures regarding immigrant detentions, particular in cases of minor infractions. Rather ironically, both Dallas County and Sheriff Valdez were named in a civil rights suit Monday. Filed by sixteen plaintiffs, “the [federal] suit addresses Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment issues [surrounding immigration holds requested by ICE],” according to the Dallas Morning News. In the RGV, closer to where the real action is, the immigration issue continues to be just as complicated as ever. On Tuesday, the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court voted to support President Barack Obama’s immigration relief program, “in a show of support for many of its own residents,” as the Brownsville Herald notes. It’s the second county to pass such a vote and “joins a growing list of Valley cities to approve similar resolutions including Edinburg, Alton, San Juan and Weslaco.” For a look at just how gray this line borderline is, be sure to read The Monitor‘s piece, in which local officials weigh in on Abbott’s latest move.
Plan for Trouble — The raids on Planned Parenthood locations across the state made national headlines last week, so it’s no surprise that Washington is keeping an eye on the situation in Texas. Visiting Dallas to promote Obamacare, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said “her office has been in touch with Texas officials over state efforts to block Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid dollars, but she didn’t indicate whether any federal action would be taken,” according to the Dallas Morning News. “Texas Democrats have called on Burwell’s office to investigate the decision, calling the state’s actions politically motivated.” Apart from saying HHS was aware of the issue, Burwell didn’t say much, likely because one does not walk into a briar patch without knowing the way out. The issue is only getting thornier, too. In yet another salvo, the Center for Medical Progress, the same anti-abortion group that started a national controversy with its undercover videos, is back with a sequel of sorts. This time, the footage shows a doctor as she rather graphically (and with pantomime!) describes a late-term abortion procedure. As always, the video is cringe-worthy. Oh, and also “heavily edited, and an independent study found that even the ‘full footage’ videos released by the group contain edits,” writes the Morning News.
Twin Piqued — Despite a fairly uniform agreement among the general public and the media that Waco officials pretty much fumbled their handling of the notorious shootout from earlier this year, the local prosecutor’s office is still standing firm. Responding to the charges from the Texas Attorney General’s office that open records requests were violated, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna has fired back. “He says the AG’s opinion in the matter was vague, and that office needs to do a better job letting accused violators know what they need to do to comply,” according to News Channel 25. The DA’s office did turn over records originally requested by a watchdog blogger and swears it did everything to comply. “‘In an effort to try to comply with the opinion we just went ahead and provided all the information. I still don’t know if it’s what everybody was looking for,’ Reyna then said.” Aside from the various and questionable legal practices used to detain the bikers, Waco is about to experience another headache. On Tuesday, McLennan County commissioners approved $10,000 in funds to support the costs related to the shootout. Much of the money is spent on courtroom proceedings and the inevitable (and already arrived) lawsuits. “The county in late September paid its first lawsuit bill that was a result of the shootout. Commissioners approved paying $16,971.87 to its insurance company, the Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool,” writes the Waco Herald-Tribune. “County Judge Scott Felton said it could be the trials that result in the largest expenditure for the county.” The county is also facing a $50,000 deductible for risk coverage and “county leaders still are compiling information to apply for $250,000 to $270,000 from the governor’s County Essential Services Program to help cover costs associated with sheriff’s deputies’ overtime and the housing and feeding of inmates after the Twin Peaks melee.”
Bye, Bernie — He’s not going to prison (yet?), but one of the state’s most famous convicts is set to move. “Bernie Tiede’s new sentencing trial will be moved from Carthage—where he killed 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent nearly two decades ago—to Henderson, in a neighboring East Texas county, a visiting state district judge ruled Tuesday,” according to the Texas Tribune. “DeVasto sided with the state’s lawyers in relocating the trial to nearby Rusk County.” The judge has still not made a decision on whether Tiede will be tried for a theft charge “for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Nugent’s estate after her death.” The new trial is expected to start in January.