The Brief: Top Texas News for March 25, 2013

The Big Conversation

A new revelation in a high-profile power struggle has sent a jolt through the discord unfolding within the state's largest university system.

The Houston Chronicle's Patricia Kilday Hart reported on Sunday that amid long-simmering tension between University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and the UT System Board of Regents, Gov. Rick Perry had "communicated through emissaries that Powers should resign to avoid an embarrassing regents vote to fire him."

The strained relationship dates back two years, when Powers began clashing with regents — who are appointed by Perry — over several higher education policies backed by the governor and conservative groups.

But several recent controversies have brought the controversy into public view. As the Chronicle reports, two recent Longhorn coaches' admissions of indiscretions with students inflamed tensions between Powers and the regents, who reportedly hoped to avoid "another Penn State situation."

 

More recently, the regents voted on Wednesday to commission an external review of the relationship between UT-Austin and the UT Law School Foundation, a fundraising organization. Regent Steve Hicks, who voted against the review, accused fellow regents of seeking to undermine Powers.

In February, a week after a tense meeting with regents, Powers received a dramatic show of support from the Legislature, which passed resolutions honoring him. 

The turmoil at UT, meanwhile, as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports, stands in sharp contrast to the relative ease with which Chancellor John Sharp has guided the Texas A&M University System through the legislative session.

Culled

•    The GOP's Fresh Prince Runs at Arm's Length (The Texas Tribune): "At the Texas Legislative Conference in New Braunfels on Friday, newbie political candidate George P. Bush was smooth, cautious and unremarkable. His aim was to get used to the spotlight without making a bad impression, and he got the job done."

•    Landrieu Angrily Confronts Cruz Over Abortion Amendment (Roll Call): "Ted Cruz’s effort to tie United Nations funding to China’s abortion policy provoked a sharp, private rebuke from Mary L. Landrieu on the Senate floor Saturday morning. Shortly before 4 a.m., the Louisiana Democrat strode from her desk on the Democratic side of the chamber all the way to the Texas Republican’s desk on the far side to give him a piece of her mind after Cruz insisted on a roll call vote on his amendment to the Senate budget resolution."

•    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker urges Texas Republicans to be optimistic at Dallas event (The Dallas Morning News): "Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Saturday urged his fellow Republicans in Texas to be optimistic about the party’s future prospects and called on them to remain true to their core beliefs. 'We need to care more about the next generation than the next election,' Walker told about 900 people at the Dallas County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner at the Omni Dallas Hotel."

Quote of the Day: "I can’t control whatever personal insults or attacks others might choose to hurtle my way. Regardless of what they might say I have no intention of responding in kind." — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in an interview with The Dallas Morning News

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