The State of Texas: October 30, 2014
Video of the Day
Apart from the gratuitous shout-out to Austin, The Daily Show’s country song about our state’s insane politics (pro-choice=guns) is dang near perfect. It also includes Brad Paisley, whom Redd Volkaert would assuredly agree to make an honorary weird Texan.
It wasn’t SpaceX, but the unmanned rocket that exploded shortly after launching from Virginia Tuesday had a Texas connection. “The rocket also carried a small satellite created by about 30 University of Texas engineering students in association with NASA,” reports CBS DFW. In case you missed it, below is what happened to the Texas students’s satellite, as well as their experiments meant to “study the effects of microgravity on slime mold” and another involving “lipids“:
An Ugly Finish — It’s less than a week before the election bell dings, which means everyone’s throwing their best/worst punches, depending on how you want to call it. Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott and Senator John Cornyn were in Wendy Davis’s home-turf of Fort Worth (and home-turf of the stockyards) calling her a “friend of cattle rustlers” in a press release, according to the Austin American-Statesman. In Texas, that statement might be worse than calling someone “small.” The j’accuse is based on a bill that Davis voted against, a bill that a Davis spox said, “could send a teenager who steals a single cow as a prank to prison for 10 years.” Say this for Team Abbott-Cornyn, it doesn’t have a press release as wild as Ted Nugent himself (they’re mostly avoiding him), who is “playing [a] central role in Sid Miller’s agriculture chief run,” according to another Statesman piece. While the item sorta over-scratches that cat scratch — yes, Nugent is the treasurer but the piece doesn’t really get into how he’s a central role in the campaign — it is a nice reminder of Miller before voters go to the polls. Unfortunately, it seems the lower voters go on the ballot, the uglier the campaign fighting gets. For instance, Greg Lewis, candidate for Lubbock County Water Control and Improvement District One, is “baby sitting” his election signs. “Lewis and other candidates in next week’s election have reported missing signs,” according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. It’s a “not-all-that-uncommon occurrence … despite being a misdemeanor, said … the county’s elections administrator.” Lewis has “lost about a dozen signs in the past week, including two several nights in a row” and is “now dropping them off in the morning and picking them up at night.” In short, Lewis is getting screwed, but maybe not as some voters. As expected the new, and totally unnecessary, Voter ID law has been really frustrating during the early voting period. And as expected, it hit minorities and the poor the hardest, as MSNBC notes. A bright spot from this election cycle? The state has seen a more diverse group of candidates, specifically those who are openly LGBT. Perhaps, one day, Texas will have it’s own version of the Log Cabin Republicans. Longhorn Republican, maybe? Diversity!
Free At Last — For now, the long, fourteen-year nightmare is over for two men previously convicted of murder and serving life-sentences. Stanley O. Mozee and Dennis Lee Allen had their convictions overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Tuesday’s hearing paved the way for their case to go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. That court will decide whether the men should be exonerated and declared innocent or whether they will simply get a new trial in the killing of the Rev. Jesse Borns Jr.” The two men, homeless at the time of the murder, were convicted based on evidence provided by jailhouses informants, who were to receive reduced sentences, as well as “an unrecorded confession from Mozee” that he later recanted. Dallas prosecutors are still deciding whether to recommend exoneration. It’s not exactly a slam-dunk with regard to prosecutorial misconduct, but it does highlight a trend which Texas Monthly‘s Pamela Colloff has been tirelessly reporting. There’s the obvious boogeyman, Charles Sebesta, prosecutor in the infamous Anthony Graves case. But Colloff also made the “case for punishing prosecutors who abuse their power” in magazine’s latest edition.
Subpoen-oops — It’s kind of like turning the other cheek, except being forced to, and that other cheek is still pretty mad, too. “Convinced by clergymen from across the country that she had entered a raging national debate on religious freedom she wanted no part of, [Houston] Mayor Annise Parker on Wednesday agreed to withdraw controversial subpoenas the city issued to five local pastors in connection with a lawsuit over Houston’s equal rights ordinance,” reports the Houston Chronicle. This might be the only time we see minority leaders so aligned with your traditional, white bread Texans, although the match shouldn’t be too surprising. Consevatives and church-goers across the country objected to the subpoenas (the sky rained Bibles!) because the subpoenas had creepily demanded “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession,” as the Texas Tribune documents. Religious leaders of all ethnicities can now go back to speaking out against loving all of God’s creations because America, our melting pot, and its system of separation of church and state still works.
Trouble In Transylvania, Tx. — Just in time for Halloween, the veterinarian who made headlines for using a dog for blood transfusions — he told the owners he’d put it down — was indicted on three counts Wednesday, one of which is “animal cruelty.” The grand jury “also charged [the vet] with one count of theft between $1,500 and $20,000 and another count of ‘misapplication of fiduciary property,'” reports the Dallas Morning News‘s Robert Wilonsky (he always gets the best stories). “Those two charges are state jail felonies punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility. The animal-cruelty charge is a Class A misdemeanor for which he could receive up to a year in jail.” The international press, cheekily took to clal the man the “Vampire Vet.” The vet is “free on $10,000 bond while awaiting trial. No court date has been set.”