There was no shortage of news coming out of the Texas Capitol this week, but last Thursday was so singular that we’re going to try something different this week and build our entire playlist around the events of that day. To get things started, then, we’re leading with guitarist Wes Montgomery’s soul jazz cover of “A Day In The Life” by The Beatles.
The easiest way to enjoy the playlist is to download Spotify, a free program. But even without it, you can still follow along. Here are the other selections for the week:
Before the session began, the passage of an open carry law of some sort felt like a done deal — or it did until unpleasant confrontations with lawmakers made it seem like some advocates were going to shoot themselves in the foot. That possibility was raised first thing in the morning by John Reynolds in his morning Brief (yes, you can subscribe to it), so we looked up “It’s My Own Fault” by B.B. King.
Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn put together an eight-part video series called “State of Mind: Community Concerns Come to the Capitol.” Part seven takes a look at property taxes in Texas. Much of the impetus for reform is coming from smaller counties who say they are at a disadvantage when certain appraisals are challenged, so we went with “After Taxes” by Johnny Cash.
Rocha noted former Gov. Rick Perry had all but confirmed a 2016 reprise run for president on Fox News Wednesday which brought to mind trumpeter Donald Byrd’s “On the Trail.” Meanwhile, Perry’s successor, Gov. Greg Abbott, announced his intention to dismantle a key feature of the Perry legacy and divert funding from technology startups to a new program that would make payments to universities that recruit prestigious faculty, bringing to mind Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners."
Since 2003, a tradition of biennial legislative sessions has been Texas Muslim Capitol Day, in which Texans of that faith from across the state converge on Austin, meet with lawmakers, and hold a rally at the south entrance.
This year, though, a combination of a controversial Facebook post from freshman Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, and an unaccustomed disruption from protesters cast a pall on what is normally an innocuous event, attracting national media coverage and igniting social media. The whole turn of events reminded us of “Fussing And Fighting” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.
But the news just kept coming Thursday. Edgar Walters reported that the Public Integrity Unit, part of the Travis Co. DA’s office and charged with investigating state corruption and malfeasance, announced it was dropping its investigation of newly sworn-in state Attorney General Ken Paxton, which brought to mind “I’m Free” by The Who.
A report released by criminal justice researchers found that the outcome for juveniles who commit crimes is markedly better if they’re placed in community supervision programs instead of state facilities. Ryan McCrimmon’s story made us remember Chris Thomas King singing “Hard Time Killin’ Floor Blues."
Thursday also found Aman Batheja writing about problems with billing and poor customer service drivers on Texas toll roads have been experiencing. The Texas Department of Transportation says things will improve soon, so we turned to another Beatles’ cover — this time, it’s the Easy Star All-Stars lighting up “Getting Better.”
Campus carry — allowing students on university campuses to carry concealed handguns if they have a permit — may have its best chance of passage yet this legislative session, but as Reeve Hamilton noted, new University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven is opposed to the idea, and sent out a letter saying as much to lawmakers. McRaven, former head of U.S. Special Forces and architect of the raid that brought down Osama bin Laden, warned campuses would be “less safe,” which led us to “Climb To Safety” by Widespread Panic.
McCrimmon also filed a story about the state shutting down three more charter schools — several have met a similar fate recently — which had us singing the chorus to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.” On the political front, Jim Malewitz reported that Kentucky Senator (and likely presidential contender) Rand Paul had tapped Texas State GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri to join his team of advisers. Munisteri can be reasonably said to be riding high after his party’s utter rout of Democrats last November, reminding us of another grand chorus, so we pulled up “We Are The Champions” by Queen.
Reporter Eva Hershaw drove to San Antonio to cover a summit aimed at helping organic farmers learn about ways they can access government drought relief assistance, so we turned to Ana Caram singing “Agua de Beber.”
All in all, a Thursday to remember, so we close with Morphine’s song of the same name.