TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Jun 7, 2010

Workers at this center for distressed children in Manvel provoked seven developmentally disabled girls into a fight of biting and bruising, while they laughed, cheered and promised the winners a precious prize: after-school snacks. The fight was one of more than 250 incidents of abuse and mistreatment in residential treatment centers over the last two years, based on a Houston Chronicle/Texas Tribune review of Department of Family and Protective Services records.

This weekend, some 14,000 true believers will congregate in Dallas for the state Republican convention, the largest such gathering in the nation. Other than electing a chairman, the main event will be developing a platform — a manifesto meant to be the ideal vision for the future of the Texas GOP. Just don't ask them all to agree to it. If they did, “it'd be a very dull convention and a very short document,” says Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

Conservatives in Texas are invoking the 10th Amendment at every whistle-stop. But what rights does it actually protect?

In the wake of the Gulf spill, anxiety is building about a proposed pipeline that would run through East Texas, ferrying Canadian oil to Port Arthur and Houston for refining.

Congress is known for having arcane battles, but the biggest fight these days in water law is over a single word in a 1970s-era measure designed to reduce pollution in America's waterways. Texas environmentalists and ranchers are anxiously awaiting the outcome.

 

When the political blog Talking Points Memo tallied the number of former federal lawmakers who lobby in Washington, its list contained 170 names, including 17 U.S. congressmen from Texas — the most of any state. That got us wondering: How many former state officeholders are registered to lobby in Austin? The answer: 65, or a little less than 5 percent of the 1,475 lobbyists on the rolls at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Nobody's openly campaigning right now, but there's talk of who might succeed Joe Straus as speaker if he stumbles before January. Attribute the speculation to inertia: The House's top job was in play for at least four years before Straus won it 17 months ago, and members and the lobby and the press and other gawkers have been trained to study every new complaint, slight, reward and compliment for signs of a coup.

In the West Texas outpost of Marfa, Malinda Beeman is waging war. Her target: a company that plans to erect at least 1,000 three-story mirrored satellite dishes designed to harness energy from the blisetringly bright desert sun.

As the Texas Department of Transportation heads into a House Transportation Committee hearing today to review a highly critical 628-page audit, the value of the $2 million report is being called into question.

Last week's request for additional budget cuts of 10 percent is expected to have a dramatic effect on state services — and local ones, too. How will a new round of slashing will affect school districts?

For the 11th event in our TribLive series, Evan Smith interviewed the Dallas County district attorney about why and how he's worked to exonerate the wrongfully imprisoned and whether he's dragging his feet on a controversial corruption case involving county constables.

 

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