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Texas Matters: DPS delays Uvalde firing, Hill Country water saver and Texas book ban

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DPS Director points on map of Robb Elementary the shooters path during the school massacre.
press conference
The DPS director points out on a map the Robb Elementary School shooter's path during the school massacre.

Sixteen months after the tragic school shooting in Uvalde that killed 19 students and two teachers, there are still too many unanswered questions about what led to the botched response.

Uvalde’s mayor at the time, Don McLaughlin, calls the lack of transparency a “cover-up.”

The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, said his institution did not fail that day. This is despite the fact that DPS troopers and Texas Rangers waited over an hour in the hallway while the victims of the gunman bled out on the classroom floor.

However, McCraw has also called the response an “abject failure.”

Many of the Uvalde parents and local elected officials have called on McCraw to take responsibility and resign.

But McCraw remains the head of the statewide law enforcement agency and, instead of being dismissed, the legislature gave him a raise of $45,000, bringing his annual salary to $345,250.

But Texas Ranger Christopher Ryan Kindell was fired. Sort of. He’s still drawing a DPS paycheck. He’s on a paid suspension while he waits for his firing to go into effect. The hold-up for that is McCraw. The head of the DPS is refusing to hear Kindell’s appeal.

This stalling refusal is odd. But it also prevents a Public Safety Commission public hearing on Kindell’s firing. That hearing would provide the public more information about what was said up and down the DPS chain of command during those crucial 70 minutes between when the shooter began his attack and when law enforcement finally entered the classroom, killed the gunman and rescued the survivors.

This is information that the families of the Uvalde victims have been demanding to be released but has been kept secret.

Journalist Jason Buch writes about this in the Texas Observer – his article is DPS Still Avoiding a Public Hearing on Uvalde Massacre.

Hill Country Water  

One of the fastest growing regions in the nation is the Texas Hill Country, particularly the stretch between San Antonio and Austin. But this summer, the lack of water in the region is becoming impossible to ignore.

This week the The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance releases a report making a case for using recycled water for irrigation and industrial needs in the Texas Hill Country.

Rachel Hanes is the Policy Director for the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance

PEN Texas Book Bans

The freedom to read is under assault in the United States, especially in public schools and particularly in Texas. That’s according to a new report from PEN America.

In the last 12 months, PEN America recorded 3,362 instances of book bans in US public school classrooms and libraries.

Jonathan Freidman is the director of Free Expression and Educational programs at PEN America.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi