Top Texas News for the Week of August 30, 2010

The governor depicted by Democrats as a coward in statewide newspaper ads last week doesn't seem nervous. In fact, as he traveled from Killeen to Temple and on to Texarkana, Republican Rick Perry looked comfortable, though he says he's taking his Democratic challenger, Bill White, seriously.

An interview with Attorney General Greg Abbott on the politics and constitutionality of gay marriage, why he's suing the feds over health care and why he filed a brief in support of the Arizona immigration law.

A new Texas Department of Transportation study names Texas' 100 most congested roadways, which are heavily concentrated in Houston and the Dallas Metroplex; Bexar is the only one of the big five counties without a top-10 trouble spot. Policymakers hope the study will focus the public and lawmakers on the state's problem areas.

Laura Miller, the former Dallas mayor, on her new life as an energy policy nerd, leaving journalism for the "dark side" of elective office, her continuing frustration over the Trinity River Project and her (lack of) political aspirations.

The head of the state's Commission on Jail Standards could do time for being too open about a suicide in the Nueces County lockup. Is the indictment of Adan Muñoz retaliation by a sheriff his lawyer describes as a "crazy little bastard"? Regardless, an open government advocate calls it "outrageous."

 

As U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, goes, so go the Democrats? In a hyper-partisan year, with control of the U.S. House up for grabs, all eyes are on Congressional District 17, the most Republican district in America held by a Democrat. Pundits think Edwards may finally get beat: Were he to survive, a D.C. analyst says, it would be "one of the greatest Houdini acts ever seen in Texas politics." But the 10-term incumbent has seen awful political environments before. “The Washington Generals have a better record against Harlem Globetrotters than the [National Republican Congressional Committee] does in predicting my defeat," he says.

State lawmakers facing an estimated $18 billion budget shortfall will soon wield their knives, but who or what will sustain deep cuts? County officials are among those waiting to see how the legislative slice-and-dice could affect things back home — and they're particularly nervous about unfunded mandates.

Robert Rodriguez's latest movie is reawakening the controversy over a content provision in the state's film industry incentives program. Supporters say the intent is simply to safeguard the image of Texas. Critics charge lawmakers with taking a machete to free speech.

Journalist Emilio Gutiérrez says that after he reported on allegations that Mexican soldiers robbed citizens, the military threatened his life. That led him to seek asylum in the U.S. — but instead, he landed in an immigration detention center for seven months. He's still waiting to find out his ultimate fate. 

When Longhorn football kicks off at home this month, so will a brand-new marketing effort urging boosters to buy, of all things, green electricity. Colt McCoy's family has already signed up with Texas Longhorns Energy, which promises customers 100 percent power from Texas wind. The Aggies will roll out a similar deal on Friday. The programs are another sign of the universities' branding heft — even though they may not be the best deal within the confusing Texas electricity market.

As chairman of the Select Committee of Public Education in the '80s, Ross Perot took on high school athletics hammer and tongs: “If the people of Texas want Friday night entertainment instead of education," he said, "let’s find out about it." … "I always wanted to run for office. And I grew up in a family that had been part of state government for a couple of generations. … The rules of the Texas Senate are designed to create an orderly process that respects the rights of individual members. They have lasted this long because they do the job well and consider the need for compromise in the legislative operation. Trampling the rights of the minority is never a good idea — and yet it has happened over and over again. Excerpts from the forthcoming How Things Really Work: Lessons from a Life in Politics.

 

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.