On Saturday, we featured a collaboration between Tribune environmental reporter Neena Satija and Houston Chronicle investigative reporter Susan Carroll writing about a Houston dry cleaner facing an environmental lawsuit from Harris County and raising a state vs. local enforcement debate. Also, Patrick Svitek was in Des Moines, Iowa, this weekend to cover the Iowa Ag Summit, which former Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other potential 2016 presidential candidates attended. There’s not much to tie those two storylines together, but we thought of a musical connection — so we lead off our latest playlist of the week’s news with Joni Mitchell’s “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.”
Last Sunday, Washington D.C. Bureau Chief Abby Livingston and News Apps Developer Annie Daniel put together a list of Texas’ top GOP donors and bundlers, so we have “Movers and Shakers” by The Clash.
Robert Landis Armstrong — “Bob” to the many who knew him — passed away in Austin at the age of 82. The former Democratic state representative, land commissioner, gubernatorial candidate, member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of the Interior was a memorable and much-loved man. People who follow state policy and politics might point to Armstrong’s leadership in more than doubling the size of the state park system with the purchase of one huge ranch adjacent to the Big Bend National Park; folks who mainly love Mexican food may know of him because of his signature Bob Armstrong Dip, served for years at an Austin restaurant. We selected three songs in remembrance: the instrumental “Big Bend,” played by Chris Pandolfi, “El Rancho Alegre” from Juan Acuña Y El Terror Del Norte, and “Rosalie’s Good Eats Café,” sung here by Bobby Bare.
On Monday, state Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, made national news after he wrote a piece for TribTalk saying he doesn’t believe “that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix." A staunch conservative, his stance surprised some; others see an ideological consistency in Simpson’s position. We just kept thinking of Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky,” covered here by The Kentucky Headhunters.
Perry was critical of Hillary Clinton, who has been under fire over the use of her personal email account while secretary of State, a violation of federal rules. But Perry has his own history of doing something similar, which reminded us of Canadian composer Ann Southam’s “Glass Houses.” Here’s #14 from that mammoth piano series — the pianist is Christina Petrowska Quilico.
Thursday, the state demographer released projections showing Texas’ population doubling by 2050. As reporter Alexa Ura wrote, this signals a profound demographic shift. We thought of Stevie Ray and Jimmie playing “Tick Tock” on their Vaughan Brothers album.
Ura also wrote about private cancer screening clinics that could suffer collateral damage from conservative lawmakers’ continuing efforts to run Planned Parenthood out of the state, which brought to mind Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me Too.” Bobby Blanchard wrote about a letter from a Department of Public safety captain to sent to legislators’ staffers, warning them of “glitter bombs.” The attached document was titled, "Glitter Bombing: Weapon of Choice for Gay Rights, Pro Choice Advocates" – so we've added “Glitter in the Air” by Pink.
Friday afternoon, hundreds of Austin-area nonprofits — the Tribune among them — wrapped up the Amplify Austin donation campaign. We’re proud to number ourselves among the many deserving nonprofits that received gifts from thousands of Central Texans, so we looked up Supertramp playing “Give a Little Bit.”
Finally, that same generosity is again evident with today's publication of our "Undrinkable" series. The stories, reported by Ura and Satija, explore how, despite decades of effort and millions spent, tens of thousands of people along Texas’ southern border are still without ready access to clean, safe drinking water. To help defray the cost of reporting this important story, we turned to you for crowdfunding help last month, and you came through, pushing us past our goal in just a couple of days, so we close with a twofer: The Talking Heads playing “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel,” and Sly And The Family Stone throwing down on “Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”