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The Brief: November 4, 2009

Enroll in a soon-to-be tier-one university, frolic freely along the coast, and create a buffer zone around your military base!

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Enroll in a soon-to-be tier-one university, frolic freely along the coast, and create a buffer zone around your military base!

These options are made possible by the passage of all 11 proposed constitutional amendments up for consideration in Tuesday’s election. Though, not everyone is energized by their new laws — only about eight percent of registered voters cast ballots. But, at least Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison must be pleased.  The eminent domain restricting provision they both touted passed easily.

Other notable amendments now enshrined in the Texas Constitution include new methods for property appraisal, state funding for veterans’ hospitals, and an exception allowing Texas State Guards to hold two government offices.

The fun isn’t over for Houston residents yet. There’s a run-off on the way. With around 20 percent voter participation, the race ended in a photo finish for second place. Nationally, it was a strong night for conservatives, which might explain how Ray Morales, a conservative in that race, made such a surprisingly strong showing.  He finished just a few points behind Peter Brown, who finished just a few points behind former City Attorney Gene Locke. So, it will be Locke in a run-off against City Controller Annise Parker, who led with just over 30 percent of the vote.

CULLED:

• Something to keep in mind for future office-seekers: More results from a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll reveal that pocketbook issues — the economy, unemployment, and federal spending — top the list of voter concerns in Texas. Campaign issues people have come to expect — gas prices, gay marriage, abortion rights, etc. — register only faintly on the radar.  Immigration won out for the title of biggest problem facing the state.

• It was bound to happen — a hair care executive has developed an interest in Gov. Rick Perry. Really, it’s more Perry’s position that Farouk Shami wants. Shami, a Houston Democrat whose company makes CHI hair-straightening irons and BioSilk hair products, announced that he’s running for governor — and he’s serious. To prove it, he says he’ll put $10 million of his own money into the Democratic primary alone.

• Add a decision from state Rep. Norma Chavez, D-El Paso, to your Thanksgiving menu. Our Brandi Grissom reports that Chavez will decide her political future by turkey day. She has already back-pedaled on a pseudo-announcement that she will run for the seat being vacated by state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, but she might be backing off even further. “Obviously, I had the worst press this summer and the end of the (legislative) session, which complicates the issue,” Chavez said, recalling reports of her feud with fellow El Paso Democrat state Rep. Marisa Marquez.

• As people say, money can’t buy student improvement. Terrence Stutz of The Dallas Morning News reports this morning that a 3-year, $300-million effort to boost student performance through merit pay for teachers may have been a major bust.  The program, launched in 2006 with the support of Gov. Rick Perry, has failed to demonstrate any impact on student achievement.

Avoid describing Neil Diamond as 'mesmerizingly sexy' or 'greatest entertainer on face of the planet' as it is redundant.” –FakeAPStylebook, a Twitter account partially run by Dallas resident Ken Lowery.

MUST READ:

Poll: What Texans are worried aboutThe Texas Tribune

Voters stayed home in drovesHouston Chronicle

Texas' stimulus impact report counted summer jobs, had errorsThe Dallas Morning News

Editorial: Driving Without EnglishThe New York Times

Women More Likely to Be UninsuredThe Contrarian

TYC: Mentally ill offenders won't be discharged without proper services The Texas Tribune

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