Tribpedia: Rick Perry

James Richard "Rick" Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, was sworn in as the state's 47th chief executive on Dec. 21, 2000, replacing then-Gov. George W. Bush upon his ascendancy to the White House. Perry was elected to a four-year term in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 and 2010. On July 8, 2013, Perry announced he would not ...

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

An Early Look at the New Willingham Documentary

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.

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

Per National Trend, Perry Stingy With Pardons

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.

Cyclists Gear Up to Push Safe-Passage Laws

Despite its relatively low number of people who walk and bike to work, Texas ranked 10th-highest among states in fatality rates for bicyclists and pedestrians in a recent survey. Lawmakers who worked on a failed 2009 measure to create a buffer zone, giving bicyclists more room on the road, will try again in 2011.

State Representatives Aaron Pena and Allan Ritter announce their switch to the Republican Party in a press conference at Republican Party of Texas headquarters in Austin.
State Representatives Aaron Pena and Allan Ritter announce their switch to the Republican Party in a press conference at Republican Party of Texas headquarters in Austin.

Now They Have to Win as Republicans

Now that state Reps. Allan Ritter of Nederland and Aaron Peña of Edinburg have ditched the Democrats, attention turns to how they'll hold on to their seats. The former is following a time-tested strategy that has worked for others. The latter is challenging political history.

British tourist Thomas Reeve was shot and killed in an Amarillo bar last fall by an armed robber, leaving behind an infant daughter. His parents’ efforts to claim financial assistance from the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Fund have been rebuffed because their son wasn’t a U.S. resident.
British tourist Thomas Reeve was shot and killed in an Amarillo bar last fall by an armed robber, leaving behind an infant daughter. His parents’ efforts to claim financial assistance from the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Fund have been rebuffed because their son wasn’t a U.S. resident.

Murdered British Tourist Doesn't Qualify for State Funds

British tourist Thomas Reeve's murder in an Amarillo bar last fall shattered his family, which has been unable to claim financial assistance from the state’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund because he wasn't a U.S. resident.

Why You Should Invest in Texas Democrats

If we ever hope to see the change we desire, we have to continue to support our candidates — even after a terrible loss. The alternative is to simply give up, and just as that was not acceptable for Republicans when they found themselves on the losing side, it’s not acceptable for us.

State Rep. Aaron Pena, R-Edinburg, at the Texas Republican Party headquarters Dec. 14, after announcing he switched parties.
State Rep. Aaron Pena, R-Edinburg, at the Texas Republican Party headquarters Dec. 14, after announcing he switched parties.

Ritter and Peña Leave Democrats, Join Republicans

Surrounded by statewide elected officials and a pack of fellow lawmakers, Democrats Aaron Peña of Edinburg and Allan Ritter of Nederland defected to the Republican Party this afternoon.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 11/29/10

M. Smith and Butrymowicz of the Hechinger Institute on charter schools and public schools making nice in the Valley, Ramsey's interview with House Speaker candidate Ken Paxton and column on the coming budget carnage, Hu on the Legislature's disappearing white Democratic women, Grissom on the sheriff who busted Willie Nelson, Hamilton talks higher ed accountability with the chair of the Governor's Business Council, Aguilar on the arrest of a cartel kingpin, Ramshaw on the explosive growth in the number of adult Texans with diabetes, Philpott on state incentive funding under fire and Galbraith on the greening of Houston: The best of our best from November 29 to December 3, 2010.

Judge to Rule on Death Penalty Constitutionality

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Harris County District Judge Kevin Fine is set to hold a hearing Monday in the case of John Edward Green, who is charged with fatally shooting a Houston woman during a robbery in June 2008. Green’s attorneys and capital punishment opponents want Fine to find that prosecutors can’t seek the death penalty because the way we administer it in Texas is unconstitutional. “The current system is profoundly and fundamentally flawed from top to bottom,” says Andrea Keilen, executive director of the Texas Defender Service. Prosecutors counter that the ruling should be made by higher courts, not a trial judge.

TX Lawmakers Look to Trim or Eliminate Incentives

Governor Rick Perry’s office has asked a member of the Emerging Technology Fund’s advisory committee to consider resigning over a recent investigation by the Texas Rangers. This is just the latest dust up over this fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund. Ben Philpott of KUT and The Texas Tribune reports on what could happen to the funds in the next Legislative session.

Texas A&M Stakes Claim as Leader in Pharmaceuticals

One hundred miles from the nearest major city, where there was nothing but flat earth seven months ago, a 145,000-square-foot facility has sprung up on the Texas A&M Health Science Center campus. Starting in January, its cavernous rooms will be filled with racks of tobacco-like plants expected to produce as many influenza vaccines in a single month as a traditional lab does in one year, at a fraction of the cost. Dr. Brett Giroir, the vice chancellor for research at the Texas A&M University System, calls it the most exciting project of its kind in the world, the potential savior of the next pandemic. And, he says, “it’s in Bryan. Go figure.”

Insiders on How the Budget Will Be Balanced

For this week's installment of our non-scientific survey of political and policy insiders on issues of the moment, we focused on the budget. Specifically, we asked how big the shortfall is going to be, how the Legislature will close the gap and which areas of the budget are most likely to be cut.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 11/15/10

Hu on the Perry-Bush rift, Ramshaw on the adult diaper wars, Ramsey's interview with conservative budget-slasher Arlene Wohlgemuth, Galbraith on the legislature's water agenda (maybe), M. Smith on Don McLeroy's last stand (maybe), Philpott on the end of earmarks (maybe), Hamilton on the merger of the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency (maybe), Aguilar on Mexicans seeking refuge from drug violence, Grissom on inadequate health care in county jails and my conversation with Houston Mayor Annise Parker: The best of our best from November 15 to 19, 2010.