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The Brief: February 23, 2010

There’s plenty for Texas-focused Supreme Court watchers to gnaw on today. Also, there’s this election going on, and people really want to vote in it.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

There’s plenty for Texas-focused Supreme Court watchers to gnaw on today.

Yesterday, the Supremes declined to hear the City of Dallas and the Texas Water Development Board’s appeal of a lower court decision that supported U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s plan to create a wildlife refuge along the Neches River that could grow as large as 25,000 acres. The city had sought to secure land along the East Texas river for a “massive reservoir” it called Lake Fastrill, which was intended to keep the North Texas region in water for the rest of the century. Considered a “significant loss” for the Metroplex, conservationists in East Texas cheer the move as a victory.

The High Court also issued a ruling reversing a 5th Circuit decision that ordered a new trial for a Houston man sentenced to die for the 1998 shooting of an off-duty police officer because black jurors may have been improperly dismissed from his jury panel. According to Assistant Harris County District Attorney Roe Wilson, the Supreme Court said the federal appeals court “was wrong in relying on two earlier decisions and must decide the case again.”

Also, there’s this election going on, and people really want to vote in it. Counties across Texas report record numbers of turnout in the first six days of early voting — the numbers have soared to twice as many as 2006 statewide, and in some areas, have grown to more than three-times voting in that year.

CULLED:

• Let the campaign shenanigans begin: There’s a misleading mailer going around in Tarrant County, email trickery in Georgetown, and unauthorized text message bribery in San Antonio.

• The city of Juarez lost 30 percent of its residents between 2005 and 2009 because of violence and the poor economy, the El Paso Times reports. That’s 110,000 abandoned houses and an exodus of about 420,000 people. In addition, about 40 percent of businesses were forced to close “because of the fear of extortions and assaults for not paying fees, or ‘cuotas,’ to criminal organizations.”

• If you’re desperate for your Don McLeroy fix this week, look no farther than the Dallas Morning News’ profile of the state board of education race that pits him against challenger Thomas Ratliff. And you can always revisit The Texas Tribune’s extensive coverage. Oh, and his “shiny pate and bristling mustache” were in the New York Times last week, too.

 "They are criminal acts and we can never excuse them, but nor can we wash our hands and say, oh well, the government didn't have anything to do with that, people are hurting and they are tired of abuse at the hands of their government." — Debra Medina, on the Austin plane bomber, at a Saturday Tea Party Rally.

MUST READ:

Houston teachers cram for revamped curriculumThe Houston Chronicle

No candidate has unveiled budget cure-allThe Houston Chronicle

John Cornyn: GOP can't count chickens yetPolitico

Look Back in Anger — The Texas Tribune

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