This is a weekly feature produced by my friend Ginger. Let us know what you think.
In DFW-area news this week, we’ll be talking about Ken Paxton, who’s local to Collin County, updates on the Dallas ransomware problem, trouble in the Dallas County juvenile department, and the outlet mall in Allen reopens. Plus, two baby giraffes!
We’ll start with a nice backgrounder from our local NPR station about Paxton’s history, his embrace of the Tea Party, and his shady financial dealings, much of which will be old news to long-time readers of this blog. Also worth a review is this Texas Observer piece from 2018 that explains how Paxton had managed to avoid trial until then. The short version is that Paxton is tight with the reactionary Republican cabal that runs Collin County, including DA Greg Willis (whom you may remember for recently settling a sexual harassment lawsuit). And as you also probably know, Paxton’s wife Angela is a state senator, having been elected for a second term to her husband’s old seat, and will be a juror in her husband’s trial unless she recuses herself.
Meanwhile, in other DFW connections to this case, here’s a piece about Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, who was a member of the House General Investigating Committee that brought the charges. Geren will also serve as an impeachment manager in the Senate, as part of a committee of twelve representatives including Jeff Leach of Plano and Morgan Meyer of University Park (my own representative). As noted in the Fort Worth Report article, Paxton threatened the members of the committee. Given that, as noted in the Observer article I linked above, Paxton’s friends at Empower Texas primaried out the judge who appointed the special prosecutors in his original case, this may not be an entirely idle threat. The backlash against Paxton’s impeachment has already started: the Collin County GOP already claims that Paxton wasn’t impeached properly(Archive link). And of course the former President had a lot to say about the impeachment as well. Expect more of this kind of talk between now and the trial.
The DMN has an analysis of how the Paxton case points to divisions inside the Republican party in Texas in 2024 (Archive link) and as the Washington Post link about TFG demonstrates, removing Paxton has national implications. It hasn’t been a major point in the impeachment discussion, but Paxton is a big defender of the Big Lie (relevant older stories at Mother Jones & the Texas Tribune) and in case you want to hear about his work making it harder to vote in Texas from the man himself, here’s a minute of Paxton talking to Steve Bannon (youtube) where he says if he hadn’t been able to block mail-in ballots, Trump would have lost Texas in 2020. Personally, I don’t believe that, but it’s key to understanding why TFG is pro-Paxton.
As an aside, related to all this discussion of voting and suppression is HB 1243, which makes illegal voting a felony again and is on Greg Abbott’s desk for signature.
From Dallas, which is the last surviving redoubt of Business Republicans of any size and is also in spitting distance of the Collin County crew, it’s easy to see how the impeachment and trial will only exacerbate the divisions between the Business/Country Club folks and the True Believers/Trumpists. Paxton has looked unstoppable for years and everyone who’s taken a shot at him has missed. Something that happened in this session (possibly 3.3 million somethings) made the Business Republicans decide it was finally worth it to take Paxton on; part of that had to be signals that statewide leadership was willing to let Paxton go.
Or maybe it’s all some twelve-dimensional chess move by Dan Patrick to take down Greg Abbott by getting him to back impeachment while Patrick saves Paxton in the Senate. No matter what it is, I’m going to be sitting back with popcorn watching angry Republicans going at each other over Ken Paxton all summer.
In other news:
- The latest on the ransomware attack from the DMN: Ransomware attack: Dallas City Council told to keep quiet four weeks later (Archive link). As a Dallas taxpayer, I feel a bit like a mushroom. They’re keeping me in the dark and feeding me crap. Related: This D Magazine piece that Charles has already pointed to about what we know about the attack.
- Dallas County juvenile department sues commissioners over detention records. Put a pin in this because we’ll be coming back to it. It’s a complicated case but the gist is that the juvenile department, including the juvenile justice system, is doing a terrible job, and the commissioners want answers that the juvenile department doesn’t want to give.
- A reminder from the DMN: Early voting for the June 10 runoff started May 30 and will continue through June 6. If your area has a runoff, please get out and vote!
- Refugee Services of Texas permanently closing after four decades. They can’t raise enough money to keep going and there are questions about some of their spending. Other resettlement agencies will take over most of their case work but their human trafficking program will close.
- Following the recent mass shooting in Allen, Allen Premium Outlets reopened on Wednesday. Here’s a DMN story about a family-owned restaurant affected by the shooting and its fallout as they reopen (Archive link).
- This is a piece of news I’ve been waiting for for a while: A Historic Civil Rights Home Reopens its Doors in Fair Park. The home belonged to Juanita Craft, whom I knew nothing about before I moved to Dallas. She was a major player in civil rights history, hosting Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr. in her home during her 50-year career with the NAACP. She also led the charge to desegregate the State Fair and successfully sued UT’s law school and North Texas State University over segregation policy. Click through and read up on her for some inspiration about how to make the world a better place.
- The Alamo Drafthouse in Las Colinas has been named for John Carpenter. It’s on John Carpenter Freeway, named for a local industrialist who helped establish Big Bend.
- Last, but definitely not least, in baby giraffe news: Meet Maple! Fossil Rim Giraffe Calf Gets Her Name. She was named by public vote after a marking that looks like a maple leaf. Along similar lines: Meet Kora: Dallas Zoo announces name of its newest baby giraffe (Archive link). Kora was named after Kora National Park in Kenya. I foresee some zoo and wildlife park time in my future this summer.