The Brief: Top Texas News for Jan 27, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Kay and Rick both have some ’splaining to do.

Two news bytes emerged today that could require massaging from their campaigns.

Yesterday, Gov. Rick Perry released a statement preempting today's report from government watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. The report describes how the Perry administration changed 11 Texas Enterprise Fund contracts to make compliance with the terms easier—in some cases reducing job creation requirements or extending deadlines to fulfill promises. The fund, which Perry urged the legislature to create in 2003, grants public money to companies who promise to generate jobs.

In addition to the 11 companies whose contracts were amended, the TPJ report found only 13 of the 45 companies they examined were performing well.

 

Perry’s office said the contracts “are working as intended, rewarding job creation in Texas and protecting taxpayer dollars in the few cases where employers do not live up to contract job commitments.”

And U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s hiccup?

The Dallas Morning News reports the senator, who regularly condemns Perry’s past support of the Trans-Texas Corridor and toll-road construction, accepted $25,000 in campaign contributions from “one of the state’s premiere toll-road builders.”

That would be San Antonio's Bartell Zachry, head of the giant highway construction company that bears his name, who has also donated more than $200,000 to Perry since he took office in 2000.

The Perry camp has already pounced.

“The senator criticizes the project, yet she has no hesitation taking money from the company building the project," spokesman Mark Miner said.

CULLED:

Even the lonely (and highly restricted) souls on death row can get a smuggled cell phone, if they want. A photo of “law enforcement killer” Joshua Maxwell in a prison cell appeared on an “inmate correspondence Web site,” and officials confirmed yesterday he had sent the picture of himself two years ago using a contraband device.

 

• Hutchison may have the endorsements of those close to Midland’s most famous former residents, but Perry has more cash from Midland voters — twice as much, to be exact.

• On the topic of Bushie endorsements, conservative blogger Robbie Cooper took it upon himself to find out what Perry thinks about Bushworld-Perryworld divide. In case you were wondering, the incumbent governor subscribes to the “predecessor-successor rivalry.”

"I never wear one. I just plug them in to keep them from dinging." — Agriculture commissioner candidate Hank Gilbert, on seat belts, to the Dallas Morning News. 

MUST READ:

Nothing beats Texas primaries for entertainment valueThe Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Backlog woes continue at HPD lab — The Houston Chronicle

Charter ChurnThe Texas Tribune

 

 

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