Thumbs turned: Gov. Greg Abbott has proposed a cool billion dollars of taxpayer money for a new University of Houston endowment in his budget, but is that where his loyalty ends? One Twitter user wrote, “Damn how much does he hate Houston?” when the governor released his March Madness College basketball scoreboard. His sin? Abbott had the audacity to predict that UH will reach the Final Four but lose to Alabama in the final game. Of course, it’s not like that billion dollars is Abbott’s money. Jim “the mattress boy” McIngvale — who once advocated legalizing sports betting in Texas only to withdraw his support because the Louisiana trip limits his impulsiveness “by a factor of 1,000” — gambled $2.5 million of his money at UH winning it all After UH’s shaky start against Northern Kentucky, he has to pray with the rest of us that stars Marcus Sasser and Jamal Shead are healthy for Saturday’s game against Auburn. of Abbott, of course, will be spent elsewhere.
Thumbs up: Just when we thought Fairfield Lake State Park was set for demolition into acres of McMansions, fairways and putting greens, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced a stay of execution. The park, whose 50-year lease expired last month, will be temporarily reopened for daytime use just in time for early spring as the state works on a solution to permanently preserve it. That’s good news for the thousands of people who come to the park each year to hike, ride bikes, horseback rides, and bass fish. While the din of construction crews clearing trees and shrubs might put a damper on a peaceful encounter with nature, there are glimmers of hope that the state could actually exercise its eminent domain authority to prevent the park from being completely pulverized and transformed into a playground for wealthy homeowners. Meanwhile, if you’re a park lover, make the trek north on I-45 to visit Fairfield Lake while you can.
Thumbs down: Anyone disturbed by the legislation passing through the Texas House these days should check out what passes for decorum in committee hearings. GOP megadonor Dr. Steve Hotze, who testified before lawmakers in favor of anti-transgender Texan bills, was allowed, repeatedly, to refer to trans people and those who support them as pedophiles, a term generally reserved to those who commit child sexual abuse. Hotze said he used the term because he considers things like the gender-affirming cure “a perversion.” Of course, some would similarly describe the idea of Hotze having a medical license. The man has been actively harming the cause of LGBTQ Texans for decades, but we’d venture to guess that in that committee room this week he was the only one under criminal charges. He is charged with aggravated assault and unlawful restraint in connection with a botched voter fraud investigation. He will have the right to defend himself in court. The trans people he is smearing hardly have that right in a court of public opinion. It wasn’t until State Senator José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, politely asked Hotze to stop using the term, explaining that trans people are simply “living as themselves” that Hotze uttered a word that really got him started from the hearing: “Bullxxxt,” he said. State Affairs Committee Chairman Bryan Hughes, a Republican, promptly chimed in, “Dr. Hotze, we don’t use that kind of language. You’re excused.” Sorry, indeed.
Thumbs turned: US Rep Chip Roy is a contrarian, which is always fun. He will occasionally surprise us with outbursts of integrity like the time he voted to certify the 2020 election results, even as most of his fellow Republicans dutifully stood behind Dear Leader Trump as he raved about how the election had been stolen from him by phantom electoral fraud. This week, as prominent Republicans lined up to criticize Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis for comments on Ukraine that were clueless or cynical (or both), likening the country’s fight for survival to a “territorial dispute” Roy, of course, was quick to endorse DeSantis for president, seemingly becoming the first congressman to do so. We suppose we should commend Roy for his courage in endorsing a buffoon rather than a traitorous buffoon, but we refuse to partake in the tyranny of low expectations that passes for leadership in the Republican party these days.
Thumbs up: Perhaps there was a time when Houston native Hannah Nicolaisen was more interested in letting people feel her wrath on the volleyball court. But at a recent American Idol audition she poured all of her into her soulful rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” And her judges did, advancing her to the next round of auditions in Hollywood. Apparently, leaving the choir at Cypress Woods High School to focus more on sports didn’t kill her music career prospects, it only delayed them. She told the Chronicle that she grew up singing and learned to play the guitar around the age of 12. “…You were definitely born to sing,” judge and country music star Luke Bryan told her after her performance. Fans should be able to watch her next audition in mid-April.