The State of Texas: September 10, 2014
Quote of the Day
“A Texas Governor is not Augustus traversing his realm with a portable mint and an imperial treasure in tow; he no more has custody or possession of the State’s general revenue funds than does any Texan. No governor can say of his or her state what the Sun King said of France: “L’etat c’est moi.”
— Rick Perry’s lawyers in their motion to dismiss the abuse-of-power case
Texas By The Numbers
Policía — Percentage of Waco community that’s Hispanic: 30 percent. Percentage of city’s police force that’s Hispanic: 11 percent. Number of police departments covered in a recent national diversity survey: 1,400. Number of departments with a majority Hispanic population: 49. Department with one of the most balanced diversity: Bexar County.
Doctor Surplus — Number of physicians licensed by the Texas Medical Board this fiscal year: 3,994. Last fiscal year: 3,594. Applications received this year: 5,149. Last year: 4,610. The last time the TMB saw such a large number of applications and licenses: never.
Expired Death — Controversy over the state’s execution drugs is back. Willie Trottie is set to be put to death today but his lawyers have filed a last-minute appeal “claiming the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) intends to use expired pentobarbital that was produced by a compounding pharmacy and not by a drug manufacturer — and that has not been tested for sterility or potency in six months,” according to the Texas Tribune. TDCJ officials claim the vials of pentobarbital to be used in the execution have a “by use date” of September 30 and the “drugs have been tested for potency and … were found to have no defects.” This raises two odd questions: do execution drugs, like milk, just “go bad”? And how in the world does one go about “testing” for such potency. Regardless, if Trottie loses his appeal (it’s not looking good for him, based on previous battles concerning the death drugs), he’ll be the “516th in Texas since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1982.”
From Givin’ Time to Doin’ Time — It’s every police officer’s worst nightmare: getting placed in the same concrete pen as the criminals they locked up. Such is the case for Former Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, who “reported to a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida,” to begin his five-year sentence for laundering money, according to The Monitor. For those concerned the former sheriff will have to fight for his survival amongst the criminals, relax. The prison camp has a seal of approval from non other than Forbes magazine. The listicle for the rich and famous “ranked the Pensacola prison the second ‘cushiest’ federal facility in the country in a 2009 article. Prisoners there were allowed visits with family members on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.” Treviño now joins his youngest son in the penal system—Jonathan “is in custody at a low-security federal prison in western Pennsylvania”—creating a nice bookend for the former policing family turned convict family.
Golden Calf — The Dripping Springs School District is learning that apparently there are sacred cows in Texas. A “pilot program designed to encourage kids to go without meat once a week during lunch has drawn the ire of state Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples.” reports the Austin American-Statesman. “The district’s Meatless Mondays program is meant to encourage healthy, environmentally conscientious eating, said John Crowley, who heads childhood nutrition services …” In a Statesman op-ed published Monday, Staples railed against the idea as “part of an ‘activist movement’ that ‘seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week.” Staples’s veganist conspiracy is certainly something to chew on. It’s a “carefully-orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week … While we have plenty of room in the Lone Star State for vegetarians, we have no room for activists who seek to mandate their lifestyles on others.” As the Statesman dutifully notes, “This is not the first time Staples — who has received at least $116,000 in campaign contributions from beef and ranching interests since 2010 … — has lashed out against Meatless Mondays.”
Jerry Jonesing — The mini-scandal involving Jerry Jones and some racy pictures made public has just gotten serious. “A former exotic dancer sued Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Monday, accusing him of sexual assault during a June 2009 incident in a local hotel,” reports the Dallas Morning News. “The encounter between Jones and three women was first detailed in a rambling manifesto by a Wichita, Kansas, man, Frank Hoover, last month. He included three photos of the Cowboys owner and two women in sexually seductive poses.” It’s the woman who took those photos, however, that “is seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages.” The details from the lawsuit are fairly graphic. Unsurprisingly, Jones’s lawyer said the “allegations are completely false” and “we intend to vigorously contest this complaint and expect it will be shown for what it is — a shakedown.”
Voicing Concerns — The Dallas Morning News has some fresh details on odd Bill Bragg/Big Tex controversy. Bragg was released from his job as the voice of Big Tex last year, allegedly for taking the job a bit too seriously. For his part, Bragg says he “was ousted when he asked to appear at an American Cancer Society event … as the voice of Big Tex. Fair officials said they fired Bragg to ‘protect our brand,’ but were never more specific.” Now, Bragg has revealed some specifics, via his Facebook page, about his disagreements with his bosses. According to Bragg, he was fired because he passed along a request to have him wave the Texas flag before the start of the ACS event. And there may have been a personal issue with at least one state fair official who himself took Bragg’s position as the voice of Big Tex a bit too seriously. “Bragg includes in his post a September 11, 2012, email from State Fair of Texas President Mitchell Glieber, in which the boss asks Bragg to make a recording for his son to help him land a homecoming date.”