The Brief: Top Texas News for May 17, 2012

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa during a Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency hearing on Sept. 21, 2011.
University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa during a Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency hearing on Sept. 21, 2011.

The Big Conversation:

One of the key figures in the rumors roiling the University of Texas at Austin has opened up about the controversy.

In an exclusive sit-down with the Tribune's Evan Smith on Wednesday, Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor of the University of Texas System, denied reports that have cast doubt on UT-Austin President Bill Powers' job security.

Texas Monthly's Paul Burka reported last week that Powers was at risk of losing his job after expressing strong opposition to a tuition freeze supported by the UT System Board of Regents and Perry. Burka, citing an unnamed source, reported that UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell had asked Cigarroa to officially recommend firing Powers, and that Cigarroa refused. Cigarroa later publicly denied that he'd been asked to fire anyone.

Cigarroa expanded on those comments Wednesday, saying that he had neither been directed nor been asked to recommend the firing of Powers. The chancellor said he's been "very pleased" with Powers' job performance, especially his commitment to improving graduation rates. But Powers can get "very passionate," he said, adding, "Sometimes I'd express things in a different viewpoint."

The chancellor said he was disappointed with Powers' assertion that the board of regents' decision to freeze tuition would "inevitably … affect our ability to teach our students and make new discoveries." But disappointment "doesn't translate to anger or termination," Cigarroa said.

Watch the Tribune's full interview below:

Culled:

  • State Rep. Rafael Anchia on Wednesday issued a statement, as reported by The Dallas Morning News, asking Domingo Garcia, a Democratic candidate for Congressional District 33, to apologize for calling primary challenger Marc Veasey, who is black, an "errand boy." Garcia on Wednesday called Veasey "the establishment's paid errand boy" in response to criticism Veasey had lobbed at Garcia over comments he made at a recent debate. "I have not endorsed in this race because there are a number of good candidates running, some of whom are close friends," Anchia said. "However, today's comments require me to speak out. Describing a 41-year-old African American male as a boy, in any context, is unacceptable and offensive. I call on the Garcia campaign to apologize for use of this slur and I am asking Democratic elected officials in Dallas and Tarrant counties to likewise demand a retraction."
  • According to Census Bureau data released today, whites now account for less than half of all births in the U.S. Non-Hispanic whites made up 49.6 percent of all births in the one-year period that ended in July 2011, while minorities accounted for 50.4 percent. The statistic raises important questions of politics and policy, including, as The New York Times notes, whether older Americans will be reluctant to pay to educate a population that doesn't resemble themselves. "The question is, how do we reimagine the social contract when the generations don’t look like one another?" said Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, co-director of Immigration studies at New York University.
  • In the U.S. Senate race, the Ted Cruz-supporting Club for Growth, a national conservative group, announced Wednesday that it has boosted its spending on ads against Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to $2 million. The group earlier this month announced a $1 million buy targeting Dewhurst. “It’s clear that Dewhurst and his allies have become desperate to avoid a runoff with Ted Cruz, because they know that David Dewhurst doesn’t come close to comparing with Ted Cruz on the issues," the group's president, Chris Chocola, said in a statement.

“I don’t endorse people until I get asked." — Gov. Rick Perry when asked Wednesday whether he would endorse House Speaker Joe Straus

Must-Read:

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/05/16/3965975/early-voters-steady-but-lag-behind.html#storylink=cpyMust-Read:

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