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May 10th, 2013:

Friday random ten: The city never sleeps, part 5

It’s hard to be a saint in the city, y’all.

1. I’ve Been To Memphis – Lyle Lovett
2. (I’ve Got A Gal In) Kalamazoo – Glenn Miller
3. In London So Fair – Susan McKeown
4. Independence, Indiana – Eddie From Ohio
5. (Is Anybody Going To) San Antone – Doug Sahm And Band
6. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) – They Might Be Giants
7. Jock In London – The Mollys
8. Kansas City – The Beatles
9. Lafayette – Lucinda Williams
10. The Leaving of Liverpool – Flying Fish Sailors

More Memphis and London, with some Liverpool and Istanbul thrown in to add to the worldliness of the set. And yes, there is still more Memphis to come.

Lehmberg out of jail

Her incarceration may be over, but Rosemary Lehmberg’s problems are far from it.

Rosemary Lehmberg

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was released from jail early Thursday after serving half of a 45-day jail sentence for pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated.

Lehmberg, who was sentenced April 19, served half of her jail term under a law that gives two days credit for every day served for good behavior.

Travis county jail records no longer showed Lehmberg booked by 3 a.m. Thursday.

“She’s been released,” said Travis County sheriff’s spokesman Roger Wade.

Wade said there were no immediate reports of any incidents or security concerns during Lehmberg’s release early Thursday. A day earlier, Wade said Lehmberg could be released anytime after midnight Thursday, but did not have immediate details as to what time she would be released.

Though some inmates are able to to get three days credit for every one day served if they work while incarcerated, Wade said Lehmberg didn’t qualify.

Lehmberg also was sentenced to a $4,000 fine and a 180-day license suspension under a plea agreement.

Upon her release, Lehmberg issued a statement saying she would seek treatment as well. At the time of her sentencing, I thought that if this story remained in the news throughout her incarceration that it meant the political pressure to oust her was not abating. Well, it’s not abating, but if she’s lucky it may run out of time.

State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, went on the offensive against the Travis County district attorney Tuesday night, pushing for an amendment to transfer power over the state’s public integrity away from Rosemary Lehmberg, who is serving jail time over a drunken driving conviction.

King pulled the amendment, which had been attached to House Bill 3153, before it reached a vote, but he said he believes he has the support to attach it to future bills.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the two videos that are out there,” King said, referencing jail booking footage where an intoxicated Lehmberg kicked doors and shouted at authorities. “She showed incredible belligerence and disrespect.”

King’s amendment would have moved authority over the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA’s office and is responsible for investigating malfeasance by the state’s elected officials, to the Texas attorney general’s office in instances when the local DA is convicted of a crime.

He pulled the amendment after members of both parties suggested that it would wreak havoc on the unit.

“The office is being run today very competently without her being there,” state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, said. “I don’t believe we need to take the money away from them, especially with ongoing investigations.”

“The amendment disrespects, in my view, disrespects the office,” state Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said.

So far, Rep. King is the only legislator actively pursuing Lehmberg’s resignation, but he claims that he has the support to get his amendment adopted and will try again. Put that on your list of shenanigans to watch out for in the last two weeks of the session. BOR has more.

Perry works against his own stated interests

I don’t understand this at all.

A bill that would have increased vehicle registration fees to raise money for transportation projects met its demise in the Texas House on Thursday.

House Bill 3664 by state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, was designed to generate money to pay down the state’s transportation-related debt and fund improvements on non-tolled roads across Texas.

After a spirited discussion, Darby postponed the bill until May 28 — one day after the session ends and lawmakers go home. He cited pressure from outside forces that made voting for the measure difficult for some legislators.

Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he would call a special session if fees were increased for transportation.

“Send me a balanced budget that has no fee increases for transportation and $2 billion for infrastructure for water, and everyone can go home and enjoy their summer,” he told reporters, explaining that he would call a special session if legislators don’t approve $1.8 billion in tax relief.

[…]

The bill highlighted divisions within the Legislature’s Republican majority. While some disagreed with the revenue raising approach to addressing transportation concerns, supporters of the bill said transportation funding needs were reaching a critical point.

“There’s no doubt that our transportation system is in dire crisis,” said Transportation Committee Chairman state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman, who amended Darby’s bill to reduce the proposed fee increase from $30 to $15.

Phillips said the state was facing a $4 billion transportation funding shortfall, and he asserted that not addressing it was “a failure to lead.”

“Are you going to be a leader or are you going to just follow?” Phillips shouted at his colleagues.

“Baaaaaaaaaaa”, most of his colleagues replied. What’s truly amazing about this is that the original proposal for vehicle registration fees was to double them, which is to say increase them by $50, three times as much as Darby’s watered-down bill. That was proposed by Sen. Tommy Williams and endorsed by the Texas Association of Business, who I would think is a little miffed to be dissed like this, both by Perry and the nihilists at Empower Texas, who pushed a typically dishonest alternative instead. I didn’t think raising the registration fee was the best solution, but it wasn’t a terrible idea, and I was crazy enough to think it might be an acceptable solution for a serious need. That’ll learn me. So now we’ve got no transportation solution, no water solution, and no easy way to fund those solutions if we make another attempt at it. What once looked like a productive session is rapidly devolving into a big mess. Good luck sorting it all out in overtime. Trail Blazers has more.

UPDATE: More from EoW and PDiddie.

Watch out for snails

The invasive species keep coming, and there’s only so much we can do about it.

Would you want this as a pet?

Ominous red dots pepper the war room maps, and the story they tell is ugly. Foreign enemies are advancing on Texas by the millions – by wing, by foot and free ride. They are coming to chomp, sting, slime and clog, and in their arrival’s wake lies the prospect of devastation and disease.

In the advance guard are zebra mussels, Russian immigrants that have vanquished Michigan lake species and clogged water intake pipes with their concreted shells; red-streaked leafhoppers capable of transmitting devastating disease to sugar cane; and giant east African snails, rat-size intruders with voracious appetites for more than 500 varieties of plants.

The mussels, which colonized 100 Michigan waterways in just 25 years, have hit the Trinity River in Denton County. The leafhoppers, natives of Australia, Asia and the Mediterranean, are in the Rio Grande Valley and marching across Texas to Louisiana sugar fields. The snails, known to charm unwary humans with their soulful eyes and mucilaginous good looks, have landed in Austin.

Enter Sam Houston State University’s Institute for the Study of Invasive Species, a consortium of biologists from four universities whose mission is to track, analyze and defeat the nastiest of nonnative plants, animals, insects and microbes that imperil the state’s well-being.

In the war between Texas and voracious invaders, the institute may be the best hope.

“The scope is giant,” says institute Director Jerry Cook. “The truth is, we don’t know how much damage is being done. Texas is a big state. We have the longest border with Mexico. We have major highways along which invasive species can travel. We have Chihuahuan desert to piney woods and everything in between.”

[…]

Also of concern are zebra mussels, which likely traveled to the Trinity River via contaminated boats, and the giant African snails, which, although illegal to possess, have been dispersed through the pet trade.

The snails, which can grow to 8 inches, arrived in Miami in 1966. Within seven years of being released in a garden, 18,000 of the creatures were munching their way across Florida.

“We like to say they’re ‘rat-sized,’ ” says Smith-Herron, emphasizing the intruder’s least-endearing quality. “The problem is that people think they have cute eyes.”

Yes, someone thought that a giant African snail would make a good pet, and the ne=xt thing you know they’re wreaking havoc on ecosystems across the country. Don’t be a part of the problem, OK? Hair Balls has more.

Rick Perry feels persecuted by gay people

I got nothin‘.

But does Tinky Winky like corndogs?

But does Tinky Winky like corndogs?

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said Sunday that he believes rejecting LGBT people is similar to fighting slavery during the pre-Civil War era.

Appearing on the Family Research Council‘s program “Stand With Scouts Sunday,” the arch conservative governor urged the Boy Scouts to stand strong against any impulse to “tear apart” the organization’s values and replace them with the “flavor of the month.”

“The fact is, this is a private organization,” Perry said of the Boy Scouts. “Their values and principles have worked for a century now. And for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up, which happens to be the flavor of the month so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that has served millions of young men, helped them become men and great fathers, that is just not appropriate and I hope the American people will stand up and say, ‘Not on my watch.’”

[…]

Perry added that the greatest governor in Texas’s history, Gov. Sam Houston, opposed slavery and opposed leaving the union in the pre-Civil War era. “That’s the type of principled leadership, that’s the type of courage, that I hope people across this country, on this issue of scouts and keeping the Boy Scouts the organization it is today, [will have],” he said.

“And if we change and become more like pop culture, young men will be not as well served,” he concluded. “America will not be as well served, and Boy Scouts will start on a decline that I don’t think will serve this country well as we go into the future.”

Generally speaking, if you have to try to persuade people that you’re on the same side of an issue that MLK or Gandhi or Frederick Douglass or Jesus Christ would be, instead of letting people reach the obvious conclusion that you’re on the same side of the issue as those people would be, then you’re probably not on the same side as they. And opposition to inequality isn’t a fad, no matter how much Rick Perry wants it to be. So you tell me which way leads to the Boy Scouts continuing on the decline that has long since started for them. Hair Balls has more.