The Brief: Top Texas News for May 7, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Cinco de Mayo isn’t the only celebration to happen in early May.

Though it has been in existence since 1952, National Day of Prayer has happened on the first Thursday of May since 1988 — and this year, that was yesterday. The event marks a day where many citizens, schools, and government officials come together to pray, usually at openly Christian gatherings. President Barack Obama issued a proclamation in support of the day, as did Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas elected leaders including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, who, referencing the religious heritage of the country said: “Prayer has enriched American public life and inspired us to become a more perfect union.  Prayer has blessed every day of business in the United States Senate.”

Several thousand took part in the event all over Texas. At San Antonio City Hall alone a thousand people gathered while a group of about 50 carried signs, including one saying ““Prayer belongs in the closet — Jesus,” protested. In El Paso, 800 people joined their mayor to pray for the city at a church, where he challenged them to spend five minutes every day reading the bible. Across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, there were more than 40 events celebrating the day.

There’s reason for some participants to believe the event may not happen next year. Just last month, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled the day unconstitutional. That decision is on hold until a higher court decides an appeal, but some legal scholars believe a higher court could have trouble overturning the ruling, according to Larry Sager, who serves as the dean of the University of Texas Law School. Sager told the Dallas Morning News the decisions is “no outlier but rather a well-crafted, precedent-respecting argument that the Constitution doesn't permit a law calling on Americans to pray.”

 

Yesterday, one Arlington minister asked God for "the ability to pray in public without fear of retribution," later saying in reference to the Wisconsin ruling, “I hope our freedoms dating back to 1775 will be maintained.”

 CULLED:

 · Mistakes happen, even in congressional votes. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she accidentally voted for a cost-of-living increase while rushing to make the vote on the House floor. She cast her hand against  — mind the double negative here —  not having an increase in pay for 2011 because she was confused about the wording of the bill. For the record: even with the mistaken favorable vote of Jackson Lee, the measure didn’t pass.

· Mistakes happen, even in campaign finance reports. The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct against Sharon Keller, the embattled Criminal Court of Appeals judge. The group wants the commission to reprimand Keller for the improper filing of personal disclosure statements with the Texas Ethics Commission that resulted in a $100,000 penalty — the highest ever assessed. Keller is appealing the TEC complaint.

· As you’re wondering what to do with your Friday afternoon, keep an eye on your favorite news outlet. At 2pm the governor will make “an important campaign announcement,” in the Rio Grande Valley, where he is attending a prayer luncheon.

"Of course, he’s still young, and he might be too good to be true, but if I were betting on the next national Hispanic political leader, I’d bet on Julián.” — University of Arizona political science professor John A. Garcia on Julian Castro, in a New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of the San Antonio mayor.

MUST READ:

Bad roads cost Texas drivers $336 a year in repairsFort Worth Star-Telegram

FDA's ability to safeguard food supply faulted in pair of reportsDallas Morning News

Children's insurance program rebounds, but more cuts fearedDallas Morning News

Austin school district tab in records fight: $150,000Austin American-Statesman

Benefits and Drawbacks — The Texas Tribune

 

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