Horns Up, Horns Down for Nov. 21

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Horns Down: Perry's latest conflict of interest

AAA Texas, a subsidiary of the Automobile Club of Southern California, is currently in negotiations to receive an economic development funding grant from the governor’s office. The only problem? AAA Texas’ CEO Thomas McKernan has donated more than $23,000 to Gov. Rick Perry since 2002, according to The Texas Tribune, creating a clear conflict of interest. The grant would be awarded by the Texas Enterprise Fund, which awards millions of tax dollars to businesses looking to relocate or expand existing operations within Texas. The three leaders who control the fund — Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus — have all received campaign contributions from executives, political action committees or investors associated with companies that received Texas Enterprise Fund awards. According to a Texans for Public Justice Report published in April, Perry collected more than $2 million from such contributions. Dewhurst received more than $1.3 million, and Straus received $232,800. The governor is supposed to represent all the people in the state of Texas — not just the select few who have thousands to spare on his campaign. If the grant is gifted to AAA Texas, Perry should take the time to explain why the company deserves it, independent of their generosity to his campaign.

Horns Up: Texas students stand up to YCT

Filling the space that might have been occupied by roving “illegal immigrants,” an estimated 500 people gathered on campus Wednesday to protest a canceled “Catch an Immigrant” game that was organized by Young Conservatives of Texas. We’re glad YCT had the good sense to call off the event after the justifiably brutal response from the national media and the University community at large.  But we’re even gladder that the counter-protesting students had the good sense not to call off their event. Although YCT’s infantile game never materialized, the feelings behind it continue to harm both undocumented students who are given in-state tuition under Texas state law and non-student immigrants who have come here for a better life. Those attitudes can’t change if those affected don’t stand up and fight for dignity and respect, so we applaud the students who protested on Wednesday for not giving up this opportunity to chip away at the rigid wall of hate and xenophobia that is keeping many from living safe and happy lives.

Horns Down: LCRA clearly doesn't read the Texan

Tuesday, the same day we published an editorial criticizing the Lower Colorado River Authority for denying more water to rural areas than urban ones, LCRA’s executive board voted to limit lawn-watering in several Central Texas cities to once a week — as it has done in Austin already. But the board also voted to cut off fresh water from the Highland Lakes to rice farmers further down the river for the third year in a row. Limiting lawn-watering in cities would be a responsible measure under normal circumstances, but in the face of the current drought, we wonder why it hadn’t been restricted already. We understand why LCRA has prioritized urban lawns over the livelihoods of those living further downstream — there are, after all, far more people in Austin than there are rice farmers in Texas — but we wish that LCRA would better address the devastation this lack of water will cause in farming communities. Maybe LCRA should take into consideration a suggestion offered via Twitter by Julia Montgomery, a UT-Austin alumna and current program coordinator at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and make a one-time investment in helping rice farmers switch to a different crop. It’s the best we can do if the LCRA is determined to leave them high and dry.