Headlines / Quote of the Week

The Rio Grande
The Rio Grande (image via Getty Images)

More Border “Security”: Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state is building an 80-acre base camp in Eagle Pass for Texas National Guard troops. The base will hold up to 2,300 soldiers who have been deployed to the border as part of Operation Lone Star, which has deployed thousands of Texas state troopers and the National Guard since launching in March 2021, The Texas Tribune reported.

Haley Visits Dallas: Fighting for a chance in the Texas Republican primary, presidential candidate Nikki Haley visited Dallas last week and spoke with The Dallas Morning News. She brought it back to the border with a hard-line immigration stance, but also suggested Texas’ abortion laws are too extreme. She said of undocumented immigrants, “All it takes is one for a 9/11 moment.” She also said Texas’ abortion laws that led Kate Cox to leave the state for an abortion need to be revisited. “I had a roommate in college who was raped. I wouldn’t wish on anyone to go through what she went through.”

Zeke Barbaro / photo by Jana Birchum
Zeke Barbaro / photo by Jana Birchum

Blues on the Green Back On: Good ol’ H-E-B. As Austin continues to try to nurture what makes the city special amid a punishingly high cost of living, the city passed a resolution last week to revive a cash-strapped Blues on the Green and other free concerts with a co-sponsorship and increased financial support from H-E-B. The free concert series will resume at Zilker Park this summer for its third decade, after it was canceled in January due to rising costs. Read more online.

Sarkisian’s Big Raise: UT-Austin football coach Steve Sarkisian is expected to make $10 million a year pending approval from the UT System Board of Regents. The pay raise would make Sarkisian one of the highest-paid coaches in the country. Sarkisian was named Big 12 Coach of the Year and has a 25-14 record over three seasons at UT, The Texas Tribune reported.

Paxton’s Political Payback: Attorney General Ken Paxton is putting generally low-profile races for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on the map, in an attempt to oust three incumbents who angered him with a 2021 opinion, The Texas Tribune reports. Paxton and his cronies accuse three female incumbents of disempowering the A.G.’s Office by rejecting his bid to unilaterally prosecute voter fraud. But the judges are pushing back. Judge Barbara Hervey wonders if Paxton even read the opinion he’s angry about, calling his approach “really pathetic.”

Willie Nelson in 2021
Willie Nelson in 2021 (photo by Jana Birchum)

More Paxton Pettiness: It doesn’t end there, though. Paxton has been hard at work campaigning against the Republicans who voted for his impeachment last year. He’s endorsed primary opponents of 20 of those GOP House incumbents. But he and Abbott aren’t on the same page – Abbott is backing at least 17 incumbents Paxton is against, The Dallas Morning News reported. They’re most divided in Collin County, where Paxton wants to remove the GOP’s entire five-member delegation to the Legislature.

Poor Paxton: Meanwhile, it looks like Paxton’s criminal trial will begin in two months, after a judge denied his request to dismiss charges last Friday. Paxton argued his constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated, but Judge Andrea Beall didn’t buy it. Beall’s decision means Paxton’s securities fraud trial is set to kick off on April 15.

Calling All Cops: Amid a nationwide shortage of police officers, Texas awarded $125 million to rural sheriffs and prosecutors across the state to help them attract and retain staff. The pot of money this comes from was created by Senate Bill 22, which passed with bipartisan support and totaled $330 million, The Texas Tribune reports.

Horned lizard
Horned lizard (image via Getty Images)

Have a Willie Good Time: The 12th annual Luck Reunion festival lineup boasts over 40 country, roots, and folk stars like John Oates, Tyler Childers, Zella Day, Toadies, and Madi Diaz, as well as local scenesters like Theo Lawrence and Willie Nelson’s own progeny, Lukas Nelson. In addition to the regular fest, attendees to the family-style Potluck dinner will be serenaded by Willie himself and treated to the culinary stylings of Rick Bayless and Edgar Rico, among others. Read more online.

Austin’s Air Problem: Under a new Environmental Protection Agency rule, Austin no longer meets certain health standards due to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Austin and surrounding areas need to reduce the levels of fine particulate matter in the air by 2032, which could prevent 4,500 premature deaths and result in 800,000 fewer asthma attacks per year nationwide, the Austin Monitor reported. If we doesn’t get those levels under control, the city could receive a “nonattainment” designation, which would mean losing out on federal funding for certain projects.

Free School: Austin Community College District (ACC) is looking to expand eligibility for the pilot launch of its proposed free tuition program. Since they announced the program last month, the scope has expanded to all local high school seniors.

B.B. King playing his guitar “Lucille,” which is on display at the LBJ Presidential Library
B.B. King playing his guitar “Lucille,” which is on display at the LBJ Presidential Library (photo Public Domain / PDM 1.0 DEED)

Kites Are Fun: The ABC Kite Fest, Austin’s beloved spring festival, announced Wednesday that it’s returning for its 96th year. For first-timers, the festival includes a kite contest and family-friendly activities on Sunday, April 14, at Zilker Park.

Lizard Time: Brian Wright, 69, is a special kind of Hill Country rancher, because he’s decided to create a sanctuary for threatened horned lizards. “They’re just unique little critters,” he told KUT. “They will squirt blood out of their eyes when you start to handle ’em if they’re really fearful.” Fun fact – they also flatten like pancakes.

Texas Tribune Gets Its Union: On Friday, employees of The Texas Tribune were formally recognized by their employer as a union, the Texas Tribune Guild. The union secured support from 90% of eligible staff members and represents more than 40 staff including reporters, photographers, designers, engineers, accountants, editors, and members of the development, product, and revenue teams.

Let Kids Live: A February ACLU report found that most school districts in Texas implement gender, class, and racial discrimination in their dress code policies. The survey reviewed 1,178 of Texas’ 1,207 K-12 public school districts and found that more than 80% of them prohibit head coverings without religious exemptions, and have vague policies on hairstyles that disproportionately target Black students – 7% banned certain textures and styles explicitly protected by the CROWN Act.

Music History in the Music Capital: An interactive exhibit that includes memorabilia from country legends such as Willie Nelson and Taylor Swift opened Saturday at the LBJ Presidential Library on Saturday. The exhibit was curated by the Bruce Springsteen Archives & Center for American Music in association with the New Orleans Jazz Museum and Hard Rock International. After debuting in Austin, the collection will move to other cities across the country, KUT reported.

Headlines / Quote of the Week
photo by Gage Skidmore / CC By-SA 2.0

Quote of the Week

“All it takes is one for a 9/11 moment. America’s acting like it’s Sept. 10. We better remember what Sept. 12 felt like.”

– Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley employing a classically racist argument to justify deporting millions of undocumented immigrants

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