Questions That'll Be Answered in 2011

Texas alternates election years with governing years, with legislative sessions set in the odd-numbered years after voters choose their leaders. There are variations, but it’s got a rhythm: Choose them, watch them govern, choose, watch. The elections behind us, it’s time to see what this particular bunch will do.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 12/27/10

Galbraith on why the Lege meets only every two years, Hu picks the year's best political moments on video, Ramsey on the personalities who mattered in 2010, Stiles on lobbyists with conflicts of interest and what the census means for redistricting, yours truly on the new Cameron Todd Willingham documentary, Grissom on cockfighting and Trillin on Sissy Farenthold: The best of our best from Dec. 23 to 27, 2010.

Political Faces of 2010

2010 didn't turn out like it looked a year ago. Unexpected people showed up. The political environment bloomed red instead of blue. The Tea was strong. And big shots turned into paper tigers. Here are some of the political personalities who mattered.

Calvin Trillin's 1972 Profile of Sissy Farenthold

As a gift to Trib readers this holiday week, we're pleased to reprint Calvin Trillin's New Yorker profile of 1972 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Frances "Sissy" Farenthold — one of a dozen and a half articles and poems that will be published early next year in Trillin on Texas, a new anthology from the University of Texas Press. A staff writer at the magazine since 1963, Trillin has long seen the state as a rich source of material; elsewhere in the anthology are meditations on subjects ranging from Texas barebecue to the fictional film critic Joe Bob Briggs. He also considers Texas to be a part of his ancestral narrative, as several members of his family arrived in the United States by way of Galveston. "Yes, I do have a Texas connection," he writes in the introduction to the anthology, "but, as we'd say in the Midwest, where I grew up, not so's you'd know it."

An Early Look at the New Willingham Documentary

An exclusive excerpt from "Incendiary," a forthcoming documentary about the Cameron Todd Willingham case.

Filmmakers Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr. are putting the finishing touches on a new documentary about the Cameron Todd Willingham case that focuses almost entirely on forensics — on the science behind arson investigations like the one that led to the Corsicana man's arrest, conviction and execution following the death of his three small children in a 1991 house fire. Mims and Bailey aren't political activists; the former lectures in the University of Texas' Department of Radio-Television-Film, while the latter is a graduate of UT's law school. But they were so moved by an article about the Willingham case in The New Yorker that they decided to tackle one of the most controversial topics in the modern era of state's criminal justice system. Well in advance of the film's release, they've carved out this excerpt of about eight minutes exclusively for the Tribune.

Per National Trend, Perry Stingy With Pardons

Gov. Rick Perry in an interview with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith
Gov. Rick Perry in an interview with Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith

Pardoning has become a holiday tradition for governors and the president, who each year choose a fortunate few whose criminal records will get wiped clean. But experts say state and national leaders are granting fewer pardons these days — and doing it in a way that undermines a critical criminal justice process that allows rehabilitated offenders to lead normal lives. Gov. Rick Perry, for example, has granted only about 180 pardons since 2001. By contrast, Bill Clements issued more than 800 pardons during his eight-year tenure, while Mark White issued nearly 500 in four years.

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