Texas Standard For March 4, 2021

The president calls it “Neanderthal thinking.” Butin places like Lubbock, Gov. Abbott’s rollback of restrictions getting more mixed reviews. We’ll have more on the governor’s lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, effective next Wednesday. But what changes at school? Texas educators and parents asking questions. And: A shot in the arm for Texas teachers, we’ll hear more. Also: A new report on how failures in the state’s mental health system are leading to a cycle of misery for many. Plus: An investigation in Dallas claims big banks are profiting from low-income apartments and illegal red-lining. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

By Texas StandardMarch 4, 2021 9:30 am

Here are the stories on Texas Standard for Thursday, March 4, 2021.

Lubbock Reacts to Abbott’s Announcement

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcement to reopen Texas and lift masking rules is drawing mixed reactions from people across the state. He announced the move in Lubbock, where COVID-19 cases are significantly down, and vaccinations are way up. Texas Tech Public Media’s Sarah Self-Walbrick reports on how the city is handling this phase of the pandemic, one year later.

TEA and COVID Mandates/Vaccines 

Gov. Abbott’s rescinding of the mask mandate  has also gotten educators concerned about what this means for schools across the state. For more on that, the Standard turns to Camille Philips, education reporter for Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.

Statewide Mental Health Failures

Texas’ state psychiatric hospital system doesn’t have nearly enough capacity to accommodate people in distress. This often results in the mentally ill repeatedly cycling through the state’s criminal justice system, ending up on the street or even dead. A new, year-long investigation by the Houston Chronicle takes a look at how the system got this way. The Standard talks to Chronicle reporter Alex Stuckey on what could be done to change it.

Banks Financing Low-Income Apartments

Affordable housing is always a problem in Texas, especially for low-wage workers. So when an affordable apartment complex goes up in a city where the need is great, what responsibility do the developers – and particularly those financing those developments – have when choosing a location for the new complex? A WFAA investigation, “Banking Below 30,” shows how banks get federal incentives for lending in low income areas below Interstate 30 in Dallas – while not making many home loans there. WFAA reporter David Schecter talks to the Standard.

North Texas Plumbers

It’s been two weeks since the Texas deep freeze, thawed. As we’ve been hearing, thousands of people now wait for plumbers who are themselves swamped with calls. KERA’s Bill Zeeble visited some homes in North Texas where burst pipe repairs are underway, to get a sense of what the fix might cost, and how long it’ll take.

Don’t Bet Against GameStop

In January, GameStop, the Grapevine-based chain store, was briefly the most talked-about company in the stock market. Amateur traders bid up its shares in an attempt to sabotage hedge fund investors who were selling the stock short. While the bubble lasted, the headlines focused on the conflict between “little guy” investors and the “hedge fund billionaires.” But that’s not the whole story. Tech expert Omar Gallaga recently took a second look at GameStop in a piece for Texas Monthly and talks to the Standard.

Utility Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Ann Rodriguez, 63, of San Antonio was one of the victims in February’s winter storm. Her husband, JesusRodriguez, says  his wife died because their house was so cold during the blackouts. Which is why Rodriguez recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against CPS, San Antonio’s main electric provider, asking for at least $1 million in damages because the utility failed to prepare for  the winter weather. At least two families have also sued the state’s biggest electric utility, Oncor, for the deaths of their loved ones. Victor Flatt, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, also co-directs the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Center there and talks to the Standard about these lawsuits.

All this and Texas News Roundup, plus Social Media Editor Wells Dunbar with the talk of Texas.

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