TribWire

Slater: Nonprofit feels heat since filing complaint against Rick Perry

When Rick Perry warned darkly that those behind his indictment “will be held accountable,” Craig McDonald felt a target on his back. It wouldn’t be the first time. McDonald heads the left-leaning nonprofit group Texans for Public Justice, which has rankled politicians in both parties for years by tracking campaign contributions with a ruthless efficiency to reveal big money in politics.

Watkins, Cantrell spar over Dallas County district attorney’s car crash

District Attorney Craig Watkins on Tuesday defended his handling of a 2013 crash in a county car, saying no policies were violated when his office settled an ensuing lawsuit without telling Dallas County commissioners. Watkins, a Democrat running for re-election in November, also accused Republican County Commissioner Mike Cantrell of political motives.

State legislator may introduce bill to split up Dallas ISD

Frustrated by the slow-moving home-rule effort in Dallas ISD, state Rep. Jason Villalba says he might draft legislation in 2015 that breaks DISD into smaller districts. Villalba, a Dallas Republican, said he wanted the current home-rule commission to draft a charter for DISD for voters to consider in the November election. But because the deadline has passed to get it on the ballot, Villalba said he will take his reform efforts to Austin.

Abbott defends raid on Houston voter registration group

Attorney General Greg Abbott said Tuesday that his office’s investigation of a Houston voter registration group that netted no prosecutions but left the organization in tatters was justified. The 2010 investigation, which included an aggressive raid, targeted a group called Houston Votes, which was accused of voter fraud.

US faces pressure internationally to lift oil export ban

  • suggested by John Reynolds

The United States is under mounting pressure from South Korea and Mexico to lift its decades-old ban on crude oil exports. According to Reuters, the two countries have joined the European Union in urging the U.S. to ship crude oil overseas.

Border surge boon to local hotels

Perry and his supporters said the heightened security presence would support inundated U.S. Border Patrol agents trying to catch human smugglers and drug traffickers hiding among the influx of Central American immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The move has also benefited lodging establishments where soldiers and state troopers have been staying.

Gov. hopeful Abbott rolls out higher ed plans

The Republican Texas attorney general wants to tie university funding to outcomes such as how well students do; let two-year associate degree students schedule courses in blocks to fit their work needs; institute a statewide advanced placement system to resolve incongruities and let AP scores of at least 3 get credit; make credits transfer better from community or junior college; give $40 million in funding to help research universities in Texas; fully fund military families for tuition and fees under the Hazlewood Act; and let students get college credit for massive open online courses, which students can take remotely.

Senate candidates talk water, education, border and even marijuana at candidate forum

Missing only Republican candidate Delwin Jones, 90, who remained hospitalized and in critical condition, the other five candidates all seemed to agree on at least what issues are important to Senate District 28 residents. Water, education and border control top the list for Republican Jodey Arrington, Republican E.M. Garza, Libertarian Kerry Douglas McKennon, Republican Charles Perry and Democrat Greg Wortham.

Prosecutors: Kaufman killings suspect had more targets

  • suggested by John Reynolds

Eric Williams, the disbarred justice of the peace accused in last year's Kaufman County prosecutor slayings, had other targets that he wanted to assassinate, prosecutors revealed for the first time Tuesday. Among those targets were the current Kaufman County district attorney and his one-time boss.

In a long line of Bushes, a grandson honors his heroic grandfather

The featured speaker, George P. Bush of Fort Worth, commemorated the heroic exploits of his grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, a Navy pilot who on this day 70 years ago, was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during a bombing run, and later rescued. A Navy Reserve office and veteran of Afghanistan, the younger Bush said that his grandfather, like most WWII veterans, was very humble about his war service.

Water conservation could benefit from more watering flexibility, say researchers

Giving people more leeway on when they can water their lawn will lead to more water conservation, according to a report by a team of researchers published earlier this summer. That's the counterintuitive, provocative conclusion to Free to Choose: Promoting Conservation by Relaxing Outdoor Watering Restrictions, published by the private, nonpartisan nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research.

ERCOT: State’s power grid reserves look good for fall, winter

The state’s primary electricity grid is expected to have sufficient electricity to deal with peak demands this fall and winter, officials with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Wednesday. ERCOT has more than 75,500 megawatts of generation to deal with an anticipated peak demand of 48,700 megawatts.

Texas voter ID law: discriminatory or common sense?

Lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice, joining several civil rights groups, told a federal judge Tuesday in South Texas that the Texas voter identification law violates the Voting Rights Act by harming African-Americans’ and Hispanics’ ability to participate in the electoral process.

Halliburton reaches $1B Gulf oil spill settlement

Halliburton's agreement to pay more than $1 billion to settle numerous claims involving the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be a way for the company and victims of the spill to avoid years of costly litigation — if all the pieces fall into place.

Citizen militia undeterred by shooting incident

A leader of the self-described “Patriots,” a group of armed citizen volunteers patrolling the Rio Grande Valley border for illegal activity, said they were surprised that a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot in the direction of one of their volunteers last week, because moments before agents had sought their assistance.

Abbott supports prosecutors' unit vetoed by Perry

Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday said he supports keeping the state-funded unit of prosecutors investigating public corruption that Gov. Rick Perry vetoed, a move that later led to a felony indictment. Speaking after a campaign event, the Republican candidate for governor said he believed it was important for state lawmakers to have “a watchdog with prosecutorial authority.”

Feds pursue probe into secret Ron Paul campaign payments

A federal probe into secret payments to a key Iowa supporter of Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign has connections to at least three long-time aides to the former Texas congressman. The political fallout was felt immediately over the Labor Day weekend when Jesse Benton, campaign manager to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, announced his resignation.

Group files complaint against Whitmire over UH texts

A conservative group has filed a criminal complaint against state Sen. John Whitmire, accusing him of coercion in an exchange of text messages with University of Houston President Renu Khator that was published in the Houston Chronicle.

Montgomery County supplier touts use of 'reclaimed' water for lawns

A Montgomery County water provider has launched a project that officials hope will help preserve a dwindling groundwater supply by offering customers the option of using treated wastewater on their lawns. Wastewater derives from bathing, washing, food preparation and the disposal of human waste.

Houston's same-sex benefits stand, for now

Married same-sex couples will continue to receive health and life insurance benefits from the city of Houston, a federal judge ruled Friday, pending the outcome of an appeal in a separate lawsuit.

Justice Department: Texas voter ID discriminatory

A federal judge on Tuesday began reviewing tough new Texas voter ID rules challenged by the Obama administration in a trial that could threaten the polarizing law, although a decision isn't expected before the November election.

City evaluating 'One Bin' bids amid criticism of concept

Now, with five "One Bin for All" company bids under consideration, city officials are facing more practical questions: Can the technology be built, and can it be done at the right price? If not, the one bin plan will be scrapped and the city's focus will shift to expanding curbside recycling.

UTMB rebounds 6 years after Ike's damage

It is building a 13-story hospital in Galveston and a smaller medical center in League City. Last week, UTMB officially announced its takeover of the Angleton-Danbury Medical Center in Brazoria County. The comeback is a story of pluck, luck, opportunity and community support. Critics, though, say UTMB has rebounded in part with a bottom-line mentality that has included doing less charity care.