Category Archives: Texas News

The Amarillo Sod Poodles?

Little dogs on the prairie - Defenders of Wildlife Blog

This year it was announced that the long-time San Antonio Missions (currently a AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres) would be packing up and heading north to Amarillo.  As the existing team mascot seemed inappropriate for a city with no Missions, the club set out on a mission to find a new mascot.  There were five finalists – the Bronc Busters (boring), the Boot Scooters (lame), the Long Haulers (better but with possible porn overtones),  the Jerky (who names a team after a food item and this one probably has more porn overtones than the Long Haulers) and the Sod Poodles (???).

Well, what pray tell is a Sod Poodle?  Red was a bit embarrassed to learn that it as old name for the five species of stout, short-legged, short-tailed terrestrial squirrels commonly known as prairie dogs and represented in Texas by Cynomys ludovicianus.  The name prairie dog derives from the barks or yipping calls of the  diurnal rodents who congregate in large underground colonies across the short grass plains of North America.

Well, you might be able to guess which name Red gets behind.  While Red has no love lost for squirrels in general, prairie dogs have somehow never gotten on his bad side and they are fun to watch.  And the Sod Poodles would be in line with such other imaginative minor league mascots as the Lug Nuts, Sand Gnats, River Bandits, Iron Pigs, Mud Hens, Chihuahuas,  Flying Squirrels, Yard Goats, Jumbo Shrimp, Muck Dogs and Hose Jockeys (Okay, Red made that last one up).

And Root, Root, Root for the Sod Poodles would actually kind of make sense.

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File it under “It’s About Time” – Catholic Church to disclose names of all clergy accused of child abuse

In 2019, the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas have promised that they will release the names of priests who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor from 1950 on. The move was announced by Bishop Edward Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.   The Church indicated that the bishops from the 15 Texas dioceses decided on September 30 to release the lists of names by January 31, 2019 as part of their effort “to protect children from sexual abuse.”  One might argue that the priestly cows already left the barn while the Church was holding open the barn doors and even directing them to the next pasture where they could graze on unsuspecting Catholic youth.   Still, Red encourages any move in a positive direction towards further exposure of this horrific scandal that has eaten away at the very soul of the Church.  Priests need to know that there is now nowhere to hide and that as Dostoyevsky put it “the path to redemption leads through confession.”  But this confession needs to be in the public square not hidden in the confessional.   It will not heal the wounded, but it needs to be done.

Goodbye El Paso – We hardly knew ye.

El Paso attorney Steve Fischer is arguing for a break from the Lone Star State.  Fischer thinks that El Paso gets no respect and that it would be better off seceding and hooking up with the Land of Enchantment (aka New Mexico).  El Paso is separated from the rest of Texas by a time zone and a lot of empty space and most Texans have never been there unless they were passing through on the way to California.  And as Fischer points out, there has never been a state-wide official elected from the capable ranks of El Pasoans.  Fischer also complains (rightfully) that El Paso is the step-child when it comes to higher education with only one 4 year university (UTEP) that has never been pushed for Tier One status and never asked to play ball with the other Texas schools.  El Paso is also the largest city in the country without a law school (views could differ on the benefits there – but who knew?).

The rest of the state doesn’t seem to understand us. Maybe it’s time to break up. Texas Republicans should be happy to get rid of El Paso because we are an overwhelmingly Democratic city. Democrats may prefer to keep us, but what did they do for us when they were in power?

Our marriage to Texas has gotten old. New Mexico is younger and more attractive. We would not be ignored, especially because we would be their largest city. Grant us a divorce and we won’t even request the back support. If there are any El Pasoans who think we need a wall to protect us, take ‘em. You can have custody and everyone will be better off.

Maybe Mr. Fischer has a point.

I-14 Update – Student Coalition Supports Interstate 14

A small part of construction on new Interstate 14 is underway.  Now a student coalition is promoting a complete I-14 stretching from Georgia to west Texas.  The Youth Infrastructure Coalition  wants an I-14 that would create an east-west alternative accross the southern reaches of the US between I-10 and I-20.  Frank Lumpkin, YIC’s founder started the group to promote infrastructure and economic growth in an underserved area.  In Texas, I-14 would run from the Louisiana border near Jasper, through Huntsville, Bryan/College Station, Temple/Killeen and hook up with I-10 near Fort Stockton.

“If you look at a map and take the demographics of those regions, you’ll find the median household income average is about 22 percent below the average for the entire United States. So, there’s definitely disparity and facts show it.”

YIC envisions I-14 being created primarily be the expansion and improvement of existing highways as a less expensive alternative to building an entirely new highway.  In contrast to Rick Perry’s Texas Trans-Corridor proposal – which drew near universal outrage and opposition –  I-14 seems to be winning local support as a number of municipalities that would be affected have passed resolutions in support of the super-highway.

The Frisco is Closing

Austin Landmarks on the Menu - Food - The Austin Chronicle

Red is weeping today as The Frisco on Burnet Road in Austin will be closing up shop on July 29.  From his early days, Red always enjoyed many a Fabulous Frisco burger with plump fresh cut fries and a dinner salad with 1000 Island with his family and later while sitting at the counter at the iconic spot in North Austin.  And he even enjoyed the occasional splurge of a slice of banana cream pie.  Red was fond of one waitress in particular who always asked him “Do you use ketchup?”  To which Red always wanted to reply that he not only used ketchup – he abused it.  In recent years, Red almost always stopped at The Frisco when he was in town even after it moved a mile or so up Burnet Road.

The Frisco was the last of the Night Hawk chain of restaurants.  The Night Hawk was started in 1931 by Harry Akin, a former Austin mayor, on S. Congress.  A second location near the UT Campus on The Drag was opened in 1933.  Other locations were in San Antonio and Austin.  Akin was a pioneer in desegregation and his restaurants were among the first in Texas to break the color barrier and serve all people.  His restaurants were also largely staffed by women and minorities.

Red is inconsolable.

Meanwhile on the subject of tolerance and understanding

A billboard on Interstate 40 in Texas tells liberals to to keep driving until they leave the state.

An undisclosed client hired Burkett Outdoor Advertising to put up a billboard in the Panhandle advising “liberals” to leave Texas.  According to the latest polling in statewide races, that would require as much as 40% of the state to “get the Hell out of [insert city name here]” as the liberal Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke is currently polling around that number.  If you look at Trump’s disapproval rating, then maybe as many as 47% of Texans would have to make like horseshit and hit the trail as that is the percentage that strongly (40%) or somewhat (7%) disapprove of Trumpf – the Insult Comic President.  Red is just guessing, that might hurt the Texas economy just a bit – but it would leave a lot of room for immigrants (or worse Californians) to move in.  That is called “unintended consequences.”

Mike Toth – Justice for Sale?

Mike Toth – a member of embattled Texas AG Ken Paxton’s inner circle – won the GOP primary for a seat on the important Austin Court of Appeals yesterday.  Observers wonder about Toth’s impartiality in light of his aggressive out-of-state fundraising that violated the voluntary ethical guidelines that almost every judicial candidate in Texas follows.  At one point almost one-third of Toth’s campaign cash came from out of state – something very unusual in a normally somewhat obscure down ballot judicial race.

According to the Texas Observer, Toth soaked up cash from controversial right wing billionaire Peter Thiel and from John Thayer , former hedge fund manager from  Greenwich, Connecticut who notified the Texas Ethics Commission that would exceed the $5,000 expenditure cap that all normal judicial candidates agree to.  Other questionable funds have flowed to Toth personally and politically.   Joel Lumer, a Florida lawyer claiming to be a long-time friend of Toth’s, contributed $10,000 to Toth and also gave Toth’s family $24,000 for their children’s college funds [plus a Canon Ef 200mm lens and a “monetary gift” of $2,268], according to campaign records and personal financial statements on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.  Who gives someone else $24,000 for their kids’ college education without expecting something in return?

To top it off, Toth has waged an unconventional campaign as if he were running for Congress – not a judicial post where you are supposed to be impartial.  Toth touted his Tea Party and Trumpian bona fides and left little doubt in Red’s mind that he will be a judicial activist of the most pernicious sort – one using the old saw of substantive due process to knock out laws that he personally disagrees with and running roughshod over the legislative process.   Toth’s claim to rule impartially on the facts and the law if elected seems especially doubtful in light of his over right-wing campaign designed to push the GOP’s hot buttons.

Former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips appeared appalled by Toth’s right-wing campaign.

 Phillips, a Republican said, “he had never seen anything quite like” the mailer Toth sent out.  “I’m concerned anytime a judicial candidate suggests, even indirectly, that his or her election will lead to a particular policy outcome,” Phillips said. “To conduct a campaign based on your view of hot-button political issues confuses rather than enlightens the electorate.”

Red is endorsing Gisela Triana – sight unseen – against the unfolding ethical nightmare that Toth seems to embody.