The end of the year is known as award season, and things are no different in Texas – although there’s one accolade folks aren’t especially fond of receiving.
Texas Monthly’s annual Bum Steer Awards have called out the fails, flops and fizzles of each year for decades. And, as you might expect, it was a banner year of Bum Steers.
Ross McCammon, who corralled this collection of confusion as Bum Steers editor, discussed this years picks with the Standard. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:
Texas Standard: So we’ll get to this year’s big winner in a bit, but like any good awards show we’ll save that one for the last. Let’s talk about some of these runner-ups, starting with retiring Congress member Louie Gohmert. He’s been awarded a special accolade, right?
Ross McCammon: Yes. Louie Gohmert is such a bum Bum Steer that we’re actually going to name our official Bum Steer of the Year award after him. And it’s going to be the ‘Gohmie’ from now on. He has had quite the career in Congress representing Texas, but not actually getting a ton of stuff done. He didn’t chair a single committee during his time in Congress, and he only sponsored one bill. So we think he qualifies, and he gets a special honor this year.
On the other side of the aisle, the Bum Steers have nominated a Democrat who certainly sees the world through rose-colored glasses. Tell us about Gilberto Hinojosa: his role in the party, and how he got the nod.
Absolutely. Gilberto Hinojosa is the Democratic Party chair. If you look at the performance of the party over the last couple of decades, he’s actually been doing this job since 2012. The Democrats haven’t done so great in Texas; they’ve certainly made a lot of strides, but just haven’t won a statewide race in years. And I think the positivity can only go so far. So we were highlighting (how) I think he represents just the overall failure of the Democrats to make any real, real headway in Texas.
Another runner up, Gov. Greg Abbott’s border initiative, Operation Lone Star, rechristened Floperation Lone Star. Now, the Texas Monthly team notes it hasn’t exactly done what it set out to do. How so?
We note that in March 2021 when this began, there were 109,456 encounters by law enforcement officials with undocumented migrants at the Texas southern border. And after this big security initiative that was widely touted by the governor and others, there was actually a rise in the number of encounters – by about 7,000 by August 2022. Now, obviously, there’s a very dynamic situation at the border. The governor is not entirely responsible. But I think that it was proposed with such fanfare that we really needed to note what those numbers were.
Those numbers, and, some serious questions about that whole operation. So this year’s Bum Steer of the Year is not a person, but a place. Why did the Monthly select its own headquarters, the city of Austin, as its Bum Steer of the Year for 2022?
Oh, it breaks our heart. It breaks our heart. Texas Monthly has been in Austin for its entire existence, coming up 50 years now. And 50 years: that’s been a lot of change in Austin from a funky little college town to something bigger, and with more traffic, and a lot more people. And I think there’s a point at which – the rents are rising so much, the cost of living is rising so much, the infrastructure not able to keep up with the 260,000 new residents who’ve moved to Austin since 2018 – that you just have to acknowledge something has changed. Austin is still a great, great city, but Dallas is a great city. Houston is a great city. Austin was always different than those places, a little more laid back. And we have Soho House going down in South Congress. We have a Hermés store replacing longtime local favorite shops. And, you know, we just think it’s no longer “Keep Austin Weird.” It’s “Keep Austin Steer’d.”