Judicial Cartography

A panel of federal judges in San Antonio proposed new redistricting maps for the Texas Senate and the Texas House late Thursday, asking for comments by noon on Friday. They're trying to finish maps before candidates start filing on November 28 — a date set by the court.

The three-judge panel proposed one map for the Texas Senate, and two for the Texas House, one from the court and another from Judge Jerry Smith, who's on the panel and is a member of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That appears to set up a majority opinion from Judges Orlando Garcia and Xavier Rodriguez and a minority opinion from Smith on the House plan. And they didn't issue any proposal, or any information at all, about congressional maps that are also pending before the court.

The House plan with two judges on it — H298 — pairs several House members, meaning there are districts with two incumbents in them, but several of those pairings include members who don't intend to seek re-election. The House map approved by the Legislature included seven pairings; the court's version includes 12 (Smith's has eight pairs). It puts Hispanics in the majority in each of the districts in El Paso County, adds a district in the Hidalgo/Cameron county area, creates a minority coalition district — one where Anglos are the minority — in Central Texas and consolidates districts in Corpus Christi.

"It's not a perfect plan," says Jose Garza, attorney for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. "It's not the optimum plan ... but it's significantly better than what the state of Texas came up with on a number of fronts."

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose office is defending the legislative maps, didn't comment on the content of the proposals. "We have received the court's proposed interim maps and are reviewing them and working to prepare a response as requested by the court," Lauren Bean said via email.

It gives Houston Democratic Reps. Hubert Vo and Scott Hochberg their own districts — instead pairing Republicans Beverly Woolley, who's not seeking re-election, and Jim Murphy, who is. According to attorneys for the MALC, the court's map also creates a new Hispanic district in Harris County.

Two Republicans — Geannie Morrison of Victoria and Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi — are paired in the court's proposed House map, which also retains a pairing of Corpus Christi Republicans Connie Scott and Raul Torres. Reps. Erwin Cain of Como and Dan Flynn of Van remain paired.

The other pairings in the court's House map each involve at least one member who is either moving or isn't seeking re-election, either because they want to get out of politics or because they're seeking another office. They include Tuffy Hamilton of Mauriceville and Allen Ritter of Nederland, Rick Hardcastle of Vernon and Lanham Lyne of Wichita Falls, Jose Aliseda of Beeville and Tracy King of Batesville, Warren Chisum of Pampa and Jim Landtroop of Plainview, Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills and Barbara Nash of Arlington, Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie and Helen Giddings of Dallas, Cindy Burkett of Mesquite and Joe Driver of Garland, and Will Hartnett and Kenneth Sheets of Dallas.

That punches 13 holes in the map: In North Texas, where the Hardcastle/Lyne pairing is open because neither is coming back, centered in Wichita County; in Collin and Rockwall counties; two in Brazos County, one of which will be filled by a runoff next month; centered in Fort Bend County; a new Cameron/Hidalgo seat; one centered in San Patricio and Jim Wells counties; in Denton County; two in Tarrant County; in Williamson County; in Dallas County; and one centered in Montgomery County. Four of those empty seats are new minority opportunity districts.

"This is significantly more than we were able to accomplish on the floor," says state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio and the chairman of MALC.

Several districts were changed in ways that could make them more competitive, according to Matt Angle with the Democratic Lone Star Project. "It put back in play several districts in Dallas County," he says. The new map includes 57 districts in which Barack Obama got 50 percent or more in the 2008 election. The current House has 49 Democrats in it.

The biggest change in the Senate map is in Tarrant County, where Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, appears to have had most of her current district restored. The legislative map drew her into decidedly Republican territory. "The Senate map is a big win for Fort Worth and for Wendy Davis," Angle says. "She has a chance to replicate that [2008] coalition in 2012 and probably will. She clearly from a political standpoint is the winner here."

It will probably take a few days to sort this out, but the judges made a change in the Senate map that made subtle changes all over the state. The difference in population from the smallest district to the largest is just 1.52 percent; in the maps approved by the Legislature, it was 8.04 percent. Put another way, it's a difference of 12,330 people now; in the legislative version, it was 65,226. That's gotta make a difference to someone.

Here are the maps in picture form; details are available on the Texas Legislative Council's redistricting website (Lege Council was enlisted to draw the maps for the judges and has all of the details, as they did when drawing for the Legislature):

The Court's proposed Senate map.
The Court's proposed House map.
Judge Smith's proposed House map.

Voter ID Hits a Snag

Jan. 1, the date the controversial voter ID law is scheduled to take effect, is fast approaching. But a decision from the federal government on whether the bill will disenfranchise voters is not.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Voting Rights Division, which has the final say on whether the bill, which would require that voters furnish a photo ID before casting a ballot, is discriminatory, told the state it is restarting the clock and could take an additional 60 days to make a determination.

The latest snag for the state came in a letter dated Wednesday Nov. 16 informing the Texas secretary of state’s office it needed more information on how many registered voters with Spanish surnames had current or recently expired IDs. The DOJ also sought the voters’ counties of residence. The DOJ originally requested the information in September, but the state responded in October that it couldn’t provide that breakdown because voters aren’t asked to provide race when they register. Instead, the state submitted a list of all the Hispanic surnames in Texas, as determined by the census. It also offered to run that list against the list of registered voters to determine how many have Hispanic names and provided a spreadsheet showing how many registered voters resided in each county as of Sept. 16. The spreadsheet shows how many voters did not provide an ID when they registered to vote, how many voters did not provide an ID but whose records matched an ID record in the Department of Public Safety database and those who did not provide an ID and could not be matched with a DPS record.

But that’s not quite going to do it, the DOJ responded. So the state said it could also try to use the Department of Public Safety’s demographic information to compile the data. That’s where we are now.

So as the clock ticks, the request hasn’t been fulfilled. The state said Thursday it was working diligently to submit the information but cautioned it would be, at best, an estimate.

“There was a discussion about matching it up from racial and ethnic data that’s collected on driver’s licenses and personal ID cards. But as I understand it DPS didn’t include a specific category for Hispanic until 2009. So that’s going to significantly skew whatever the results are,” said Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the secretary of state.

Meanwhile the Texas Democratic Party said this week’s development means the feds are growing increasingly frustrated with Texas.

“The Republican voter suppression legislation was unquestionably created to keep certain people from voting. It’s clear that the DOJ’s patience is running out.  In fact, the limited data that the state has furnished shows that Hispanic voters would be disproportionately disenfranchised,” Rebecca Acuña, a party spokeswoman, said in a statement.

In SBOE Races, Drama Already Running High

With three longtime (and moderate) members stepping down and all 15 members up for re-election because of changes brought about by redistricting, political control over the divisive State Board of Education hangs in the balance. And even though the filing period has yet to begin, there are already signs that these races could get ugly. 

Some board members will undoubtedly try to oust each other. David Bradley, R-Beaumont, who consistently votes with the board’s social conservatives, said he would be “actively working” against Thomas Ratliff, McLeroy's replacement. 

Randy Stevenson, a Tyler businessman who served on the board from 1994 to 1998, announced Wednesday that he would run against Ratliff, a registered lobbyist whose clients include Microsoft and whose opponents, because of that, have argued that he should be disqualified from office.

Ratliff said his lobby contracts avoid any conflict with board duties and that he is unconcerned about his profession becoming a liability in the upcoming election. “Despite their best efforts to make it an issue, it continues to fall on deaf ears,” he said.

Bradley has yet to attract a declared opponent, but that's expected to happen soon. Meanwhile, social conservative incumbents Ken Mercer and chairwoman Barbara Cargill have already drawn primary challengers, as has George ClaytonBob Craig and Marsha Farney, moderate Republicans, and Mary Helen Berlanga, a Democrat, have all announced that they will not seek re-election.

The race in Clayton’s district, which now includes all of Collin County north of Dallas, may prove especially contentious. Clayton, a teacher who lives in Richardson, defeated longtime incumbent Geraldine “Tincy” Miller in an upset during the 2010 primary. Miller now wants her old seat back and has launched a campaign attacking Clayton’s conservative credentials, in particular his support of a plan last spring that would have directed $2 billion from the Permanent School Fund to public schools. The board’s six social conservatives did not sign the letter and vigorously objected to drawing from the fund.

Miller said she was "incredulous" when she heard what some board members were proposing to do with the fund. Board members, she said, “should never, ever be a part of trying to go around that constitutional wording and raid that fund with a constitutional amendment.”

But perhaps more damaging to Clayton in a Republican primary are the rumors that prompted him to send an email to members of the media last week with the subject line "sexual orientation." Clayton, who was leaked the notes of a conversation between Miller and Tea Party Activist Susan Fletcher that mentioned his "living arrangements," confirmed in the email that he has "a male partner who lives with me in my home.”

In a phone interview, Miller said that she was not the one who brought up Clayton's sexual orientation, but she noted that others have. Fletcher said in an email that she was “urged by several sources in general” to investigate Clayton’s living arrangement — but not by Miller.

Clayton said in an email that when he realized his personal life might become an issue in the campaign, his first instinct was to “nip it in the bud.” That strategy has already cost him one supporter: Conservative blogger Donna Garner, who is a vocal follower of education issues, sent out an email Tuesday night retracting an endorsement of him.

Clayton said the political makeup of the board — and whether "cool heads and reasonable discussions" would prevail — depends on the next election. The board’s biggest responsibility in the next four years, he wrote, will be “to keep public education alive in Texas.”

Campaign Chatter for 11/21

State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.
State Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano.

Rep. Jerry Madden, R-Plano, won't seek an 11th term in the Texas House. Madden, chairman of the House Committee on Corrections, has been central in legislative work on adult prisons, the Texas Youth Commission and other criminal justice issues. He's also on the Redistricting Committee and, over his 20 years in office, served on a long list of other important panels, including Calendars and Public Education. He was elected in 1992. In 2008, he retired from the health insurance agency he started. He's the 22nd member of the 150-member Texas House to announce he won't seek re-election next year. A couple of Republican prospects for his HD-67 seat — attorneys Jon Cole and Jeff Leach — announced their intentions before he announced his. Cole lost, narrowly, to Madden in the 2008 primary and announced and then decided against another run in 2010. "I would suspect that there will be several more," Madden said. At this point, he said, he's not endorsing anyone.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst won the endorsement of the Texas Right to Life PAC, on his way to more endorsements from similar groups as the week played out, including the Texas Alliance for Life and Texans for Life Coalition President Kyleen Wright. Dewhurst, one of several Republicans seeking the nomination to run for the U.S. Senate, also started his first TV ad this week (former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert was the first of this pack to go on television). The new Dewhurst spot attacks federal spending, bashed "Obamacare" and touts a federal balanced budget amendment to the constitution. It closes with the candidate saying, "We've got to choke down government. It's worked in Texas, it'll work in Washington." Ted Cruz picked up an out-of-state endorsement from James Dobson and was so confident in that one that his announcement didn't include any description of who Dobson is. He's an evangelical Christian, the founder of Focus on the Family who, after leaving that group, founded Family Talk. Glenn Addison, an undertaker running for the seat on a campaign that includes a promise to only serve one term, is running radio ads attacking Cruz for legal representation of a tire company from "communist China" that Addison says is poaching American jobs. The Cruz camp declined the opportunity to comment.

Ric Sanchez, a former lieutenant general running for Senate as a Democrat, lost his house to a fire while he was attending Veterans' Day events last week. He issued a press release on it with this headline: Investigations Underway As Campaign Continues.

Jonathan Stickland announced plans to challenge Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, in HD-92. He says he's a small business owner, wants to increase the quality of education and won't be asking taxpayers for more money: "Raising taxes is not an option."

Former San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz is planning a run in CD-25 — the congressional district that runs from Hays County all the way north to Tarrant County. It's crowded with candidates, too. She's set to announce on Saturday; the map she's using could be replaced any minute by that federal panel in San Antonio.

San Antonio businessman Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs, signed on as campaign treasurer for Elizabeth Ames Jones. She is giving up her seat on the Texas Railroad Commission to challenge state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, in SD-25.

Susan Todd, a former nurse whose husband is a doctor, says she'll be in the HD-97 race; that's the contest for Mark Shelton's House seat now that he's running for the Senate against Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth (and the announcement came before the courts started dishing out maps, so everything we know could be wrong when the candidates assess the situation). Watch the political docs as this race progresses: Shelton is a doctor. Todd's related to a doctor. The first endorsement on her list? U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Flower Mound. He's a doctor. Craig Goldman, who lost a special election for the seate in 2007, has already said he'll run.

Republican congressional candidate Roger Williams — a former Texas Secretary of State — won the endorsement of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Tyler businessman and former State Board of Education member Randy Stevenson will challenge fellow Republican Thomas Ratliff. He says Ratliff is a lobbyist — true — and says the incumbent was supported by unions in his last run for office.

The Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC endorsed freshman Rep. Connie Scott, R-Corpus Christi in HD-34, where she's paired with Raul Torres, R-Corpus Christi. And they endorsed Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, and Ken Paxton, R-McKinney, who's giving up his House seat to run for the Texas Senate.

Inside Intelligence: Tweaking Judges and Lawmakers

Gov. Rick Perry proposed term limits for federal judges and cuts in pay and work hours for Congress, so we put those issues to the insiders and added the Texas versions: What about a full-time Legislature and appointed judges instead of elected ones?

We hit a nerve. Two thirds of the insiders think a part-time Congress full of people whose pay has been cut in half is a bad idea.

They're split on the judicial term limits idea. Perry proposed 18-year terms in place of the life terms served by most federal judges now; the insiders split almost evenly on that idea, with 45 percent in favor and 49 percent against.

Appointing Texas judges instead of choosing them in partisan elections also split the mob: Half are for it, and 40 percent are against. In their comments, several pointed out that most of the state's judges are initially appointed and then stand for election later.

Want a full-time Legislature? The insiders don't, with 69 percent saying that's a bad idea.

As always, we've collected the insiders' comments and attached all of them in a separate document; a sampling follows:

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Gov. Rick Perry has proposed making Congress a part-time job, halving congressional pay, and allowing members of Congress to keep their private-sector jobs after they're elected. Is that a good idea?

• "NO way. Too many members of the Texas Legislature make their living off of what they do inside the pink building... they only get away with it because most turn a blind eye to it."

• "Part of this proposal has merit...the part about getting Congressional members out of D.C. a little more often and back to their Districts. However, if one looks closely at the Texas Legislature you will find: insurance agents doing the bidding for insurance industry; lawyers carrying water for their part of the legal profession; Doctors going over the top to deal with self interested matters; etc. Does anyone really want to see a Gary Elkins 'payday loan' type speech on the floor of Congress?"

• "What, and take the Texas model national? That's worked out real well -- shortfalls, budget crisis, education and welfare rankings."

• "It's the best idea Perry has proposed -- the logical next step after watching 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.' This move directly attacks the political class, which we all have reason to resent. Members of Congress are insulated from their communities and the marketplace -- Texas Congressmen make twice the average income of an average Texan. Their salaries and their insulation make it harder for them to empathize with regular people and they become even more manic about keeping their jobs. The longer they stay in Congress, the less likely they are to have a clue."

• "Representing people in Washington is a full-time job and it should be in Texas. Plus we don't need just the rich serving in Congress. We have too much of that now."

• "The current system isn't working, and the Texas system works well."

• "Forget everything else--making Congress a part-time job will result in fewer new laws. Period."

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Another proposal would limit the terms of federal judges, from the Supreme Court on down, to 18 years (most of those are currently lifetime appointments). Is that a good idea?

• "In later years of their term, Judges would be to tempted to rule in a manner that may benefit their next job."

• "A federal judge can take your money, liberty and very life. Handing over that awesome power and responsibility to someone for life cannot be a good thing."

• "This is a great idea."

• "Judicial independence would then be as much of a fiction for federal judges as it is for those on the Texas Supreme Court."

• "The idea is to insulate and provide security so rulings are less likely to be influenced by outside influences."

• "That's probably a better idea than a part-time Congress, but can you imagine the tilt to decisions that would come in years 17 and 18 of a judge's term, in an attempt to curry favor for reappointment?"

• "Good lord, that means you serve 18 years and cash out in the private sector?"

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At the state level, some have proposed replacing judicial elections with appointments as a way of getting judges out of partisan electoral politics. Is that a good idea?

• "Too many candidates on the ballot. Nobody knows any of the judges.... all they know is party affiliation. Fewer people on the ballot would be beneficial."

• "It depends on who is doing the appointing."

• "Doesn't matter if its a good idea or not. Texans feel VERY strongly about electing judges. Might as well propose taking the big white star off the flag."

• "Great idea."

• "Crony courts? How is that a better idea?"

• "We have a modified version of that now with most Judges initially appointed to fill an unexpired term, then running for re-election. Provides some opportunity to un-elect a bad pick, but of course also allows good picks to be defeated."

• "Since when is political patronage a good idea?"

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And finally, there have been proposals to replace the part-time Texas Legislature with a full-time legislature and paying lawmakers full professional salaries. Is that a good idea?

• "It is an excellent idea if you limit the outside employment and ethics rules."

• "Yes to paying them more no to a full time lege. They would only spend their time expanding government."

• "God-awful!!! Perhaps annual sessions that alternate between budget and revenue work one session and other matters the following year."

• "At the moment, the part-time Legislature is not an adequate check on the Perry machine. But it would be adequate in more normal times, after Perry is out."

• "It would work if you restricted income and outside work and made the legislature meet annually rather than every two years."

• "One day every 140 years is a better move."

• "Paying legislators full-time pay does not make them more independent -- it makes them more insulated and narcissistic (if that's possible). Look at Congress. Look at California. Does their Legislature perform better than ours? No. Look at New York. Their Legislature is paid over $100K a year and it is rife with corruption. Full-time legislators in other states don't stop making money from other sources -- its just not as transparent. The same forces that have 'go to players' in our legislature -- big business, big industry, trade associations and trial lawyers -- have 'go to players' in those legislatures where the members are paid full time --"

• "Anything to improve the quality of the Legislature."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Louis Bacarisse, Charles Bailey, Tom Banning, Reggie Bashur, Walt Baum, Leland Beatty, Dave Beckwith, Luke Bellsnyder, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Hugh Brady, Steve Bresnen, Chris Britton, Andy Brown, Jay Brown, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, Corbin Casteel, William Chapman, George Cofer, Rick Cofer, Lawrence Collins, John Colyandro, Hector De Leon, Tom Duffy, Richard Dyer, Jeff Eller, Alan Erwin, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Terry Frakes, Neftali Garcia, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Thomas Graham, John Greytok, Michael Grimes, Anthony Haley, Bill Hammond, Sandy Haverlah, Albert Hawkins, Adam Haynes, Jim Henson, Ken Hodges, Billy Howe, Laura Huffman, Shanna Igo, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Jason Johnson, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Luke Legate, Ruben Longoria, Homero Lucero, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Matt Matthews, Dan McClung, Scott McCown, Robert Miller, Lynn Moak, Bee Moorhead, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Sylvia Nugent, Todd Olsen, Gardner Pate, Bill Pewitt, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Royce Poinsett, Kraege Polan, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Bill Ratliff, Tim Reeves, Kim Ross, Jason Sabo, Luis Saenz, Mark Sanders, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Steve Scurlock, Christopher Shields, Dee Simpson, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Jason Stanford, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Russ Tidwell, Bruce Todd, Trent Townsend, Trey Trainor, John Weaver, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Ellen Williams, Seth Winick, Lee Woods, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

 

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Work on the Formula One track under construction southeast of Austin came to a sudden halt Tuesday as the group of investors financing the project pulled the plug. The group has been unable to come to terms with the promoter of the project, Tavo Hellmund, to secure the rights to the race. The first race was to be held in November of next year, and the state of Texas had openly committed $25 million a year in incentives from the Major Events Trust Fund. But Comptroller Susan Combs announced that the state wouldn’t be willing to make the first payment until after the first race. The timing for resuming construction could be tricky if Austin wants to be on the 2012 F1 calendar.

El Paso Electric is hoping that the Public Utility Commission will approve its request for a rate increase, especially since the El Paso City Council is asking that the company’s rates be cut. The council voted not to lower the rates temporarily and by doing so set a date for rates to be negotiated. Whether the commission decides to raise or lower the power company’s rates, customers will pay additional fees or receive a refund based on this week’s vote. City Council members have said El Paso Electric’s rates and profits are excessive.

A 234-page bill passed on the last day of the Texas legislative session contained a major omission. The author of the sweeping transportation code bill, Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, asked the attorney general’s office to weigh in on whether the failure to include a fine for driving a vehicle without license plates will be a major problem for law enforcement when the law takes effect on Jan. 1.  Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office has six months to issue an opinion on the matter; meanwhile, police officers will have to interpret the new law themselves.

As water supplies dwindle across the state, one community has found itself on the verge of losing its supply entirely. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality predicts that the town of Groesbeck, about 90 miles south of Dallas, only has about a 27-day supply left in its reservoir. Over the summer, the town was forced to pump water from Fort Parker Lake after its level dropped below the spillway. Now, officials concede they’re not even going to be able to do that soon without some serious rain. The city of 4,300 is one on a list of seven that the TCEQ has deemed dangerously close to running out of water.

The wildfire season that began a year ago is not over. Conditions remain ripe for new fires as the drought across Texas lingers and vegetation that has dried or died acts as an easy fuel source for fires. In the past year, wildfires have claimed nearly 4 million acres and more than 2,900 homes, as well as 10 lives. The Texas Forest Service is struggling to call an end to wildfire season as it is still receiving daily fire calls, but the agency hopes that slow grass growth this year bodes well for next year and beyond.

Although the statute of limitations prevents family law judge William Adams from being prosecuted, the widely circulated video showing him beating his daughter has resulted in a temporary restraining order. Another county court at law judge issued the order, which includes the stipulations that he cannot belittle his ex-wife or drink alcohol within 24 hours of seeing his daughter. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21 to determine whether Adams’ visitation will be denied or supervision will be required.

School districts still reeling from state budget cuts enacted this legislative session found themselves on the losing end again in the Nov. 8 elections. Voters turned down proposals in the Hutto and Dripping Springs school districts that would have increased property tax rates in an attempt to make up for funding losses. The two districts had already trimmed millions from their budgets but now see more cuts looming.

Victims and family members of the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 have filed administrative claims against the government alleging that federal agencies ignored warning signs that Maj. Nidal Hasan, the accused shooter, posed a threat to his co-workers. The claim asks for $750 million in damages and was filed against the FBI and departments of the Army, Defense and Justice. Hasan’s criminal trial is scheduled for March, and lawyers speculate that the claims, which also implicate Hasan’s superiors, could help his case.

New Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp is already putting his stamp on system operations. Sharp has hired a consulting firm to review A&M’s business operations and make recommendations to increase efficiency. Sharp reassigned the current vice chancellor for governmental operations, Stanton Calvert, to be vice chancellor emeritus and appointed Guy Diedrich to take over as vice chancellor for federal and state relations. Frank Ashley, who currently holds the title of vice chancellor of academic affairs, will be known as the vice chancellor of recruitment and diversity.

Political People and their Moves

Benette Zivley abruptly resigned as commissioner of the Texas State Securities Board Tuesday and has been replaced, for now, by Carla James, the agency's deputy commissioner. Zivley has been in the job for less than a year; he was promoted in mid-February and had been with the board for 12 years before that.

Tom Mason, a former general manager at the Lower Colorado River Authority, joined Graves, Dougherty, Hearon & Moody, an Austin law firm. He'll start his new gig right after Thanksgiving.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed Alex Meade III of Mission and Walker Moody of Houston to the oversight committee at the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Meade is CEO of the Mission Economic Development Corp. Moody is a partner at Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. and COO of TPH Asset Management.

Deaths: Mary Hardesty, former press secretary and speech writer for Gov. Mark White. She was 80.

Quotes of the Week

Well, he did ask if I could debate here in Washington on Monday. It is my understanding that the letter has come in. Monday, I’m going to be in Portland in the morning. I’m going to be visiting some of our labs in California in the afternoon. That’s two. I can’t remember what the third thing is.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responding to a debate challenge from Gov. Rick Perry

In my heart, I know there was no misconduct whatsoever.

Former Williamson County DA Ken Anderson, who won the wrongful murder conviction of Michael Morton 25 years ago. Anderson is now a district judge, and Morton's been freed.

I think people now realize more the dangers of the scripted candidate.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White to the Houston Chronicle on Gov. Rick Perry, who famously refused to debate White in the 2010 governor's race

It is an ‘Animal House.’ It’s a food fight. Honestly, the Republican debates have become a reality show. People have to be perceived as being capable of governing this country, of being the leader of the free world.

Kenneth Duberstein, a former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, to The New York Times on the series of gaffes and misstatements in the Republican presidential field: 

I gotta go back to — got all this stuff twirling around in my head.

Herman Cain, in what's being referred to as his own "oops" moment, on whether he agrees with Barack Obama's stance on Libya