TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of Sept. 13, 2010

Gov. Rick Perry leads Bill White 39 percent to 33 percent in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, whose most interesting finding is a restless electorate dissatisfied with conventional choices up and down the ballot. Also from the poll: Nearly half of all Texans would repeal the constitutional promise of citizenship for anyone born on U.S. soil, and nearly two-thirds would favor Arizona-style laws allowing the police to ask about the immigration status of anyone they stop for any reason. Given a choice between spending cuts and revenue increases to balance the state budget, Texans lean solidly toward cuts and oppose any new taxes to address what could be a $21 billion shortfall. And nearly as many Texans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim as approve of his performance as president.

Two years after Hurricane Ike’s surge crossed Galveston like a speed bump on its way to Houston, planners and academics are staring down multibillion-dollar public policy dilemmas. To describe Ike as a “wake-up call” understates and trivializes the matter. Like other coastal areas around the nation and around the world, the Houston-Galveston region is only now grappling with complex and costly questions of how to protect sprawling seaside development from the combination of subsidence and an expected sea-level rise from global warming.

Frank and Chila Covington could hardly be mistaken for cruel. For four decades, they showered their daughter, Ceci, who has Down syndrome, with love, affection and opportunity. But when they argued with a group home provider who insisted that Ceci needed psychotropic medication, their world turned upside down. In the time it took for the provider to accuse the Covingtons of “cruelty,” a Tarrant County judge called a secret hearing and removed their guardianship, telling them they could no longer communicate with their own child. And he had every legal right to do so.

Despite the violence-fueled cancellation of bicentennial festivities in other major border towns, Nuevo Laredo forged ahead with its celebration of Mexican Independence Day.

That deadline set by Rick Perry has come and gone. The governor gave his Democratic challenger, Bill White, until midnight Wednesday to release tax returns from his days as Deputy Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration. So, for now, it looks like Texas voters will not get to see the two men duke it out on the same stage.

 

In the closing days of his last term in the Texas House, former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, used his legislative authority to obtain confidential records from the Texas Medical Board. His reason? To defend doctors who he believes were wrongly the subjects of misconduct investigations by the board, which licenses the state's physicians.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice oversees most state jails. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards presides over county jails. But the 350 city jails across Texas are wholly unregulated. The jail commission receives dozens of complaints about the conditions inside municipal lockups — most commonly about sanitation, food, supervision and medical care — but they have no power to investigate. While critics are calling on state lawmakers to implement at least minimum standards, city officials worry that expensive new rules could result in the closure of their jails, which would mean that already overflowing county jails would get even more crowded.

The executive director of the Sierra Club on the perils of coal ash, why wind is a good thing, the priorities of state environmental-quality officials and how Texas oil companies are working to roll back California's global warming regulation.

State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, on what she really said on CNN, whether "tourism" babies are a threat to national security, why an Arizona-style immigration law would be right for Texas and whether she'll back Joe Straus for speaker.\

That deadline set by Rick Perry has come and gone. The governor gave his Democratic challenger, Bill White, until midnight last night to release tax returns from his days as Deputy Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration. So, for now, it looks like Texas voters will not get to see the two men duke it out on the same stage.

Following the candidates' official schedules isn’t a complete measure of their travels, which is why we need your help. Send us pictures, videos and links to news stories about events across the state. We’ll post them here and on our Twitter feed (under the hash tag #txgovtrack).

 

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.