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The Brief: March 17, 2010

The violence in the border city of Juarez has offered Gov. Rick Perry another shot at the federal government and what he deems is its failure to secure the nation’s border with Mexico.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The violence in the border city of Juarez has offered Gov. Rick Perry another shot at the federal government and what he deems is its failure to secure the nation’s border with Mexico. And the offer has him chomping at the bit.

Since Saturday’s murder of three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate in the violence-plagued city across from El Paso, including two U.S. citizens, Perry has unleashed a fresh assault on Washington D.C. and activated the first phase of what his office calls its “Texas Spillover Violence Contingency Plan.”

In the statement announcing the activation, Perry said he wasn’t waiting on the federal government to act: “It is imperative that the federal government immediately provide additional resources to prevent spillover violence, but with the safety of Texans on the line, we can’t afford to wait.”

The operation is apparently steeped in cloak-and-dagger secrecy. According to Perry’s office: “The state’s plan is law enforcement sensitive and will not be released to the public for operational security purposes.” The statement does announce, however, that increased surveillance measures will be undertaken by “the Texas Border Security Operations Center, and the Joint Operational and Intelligence Centers to ensure the timely sharing of intelligence information; increased ground, air and maritime patrol presence; and increased intensity of day and night DPS helicopter patrol operations along the Rio Grande River, as well as National Guard helicopters to support aviation missions.”

There has also been the placing on standby of “DPS SWAT Teams and Trooper Strike Teams, as well as Ranger Recon Teams prepared to reposition based on threat.”

The statement came a day after Perry urged federal officials to deploy an unmanned aerial drone to patrol the Texas-Mexican border and for an additional 1,000 National Guardsmen in the area. In that statement Perry asked “How many Americans will have to die before our federal government takes serious action along the Texas-Mexico border?"

On Tuesday, Perry received something of a response from Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. According to a report in the Dallas Morning News, she “brushed off Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s request for surveillance planes and 1,000 fresh troops along the Mexican border.” There are already elements in place that provide surveillance on the border, reporter Todd Gilman reported Napolitano as saying, which in turn drew an immediate response from Perry’s office.

“It’s time for the federal government to allocate the appropriate resources to the Texas-Mexico border,” the article quotes a Perry aid.

CULLED:

  • Gubernatorial candidate and former Houston Mayor Bill White reportedly profited quite handsomely from his membership on a board of a company currently being investigated for possible environmental infractions. According to the Houston Chronicle's report, “the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating Houston-based BJ Services Co., Halliburton and several other oil field service companies to see if the gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a hazard to groundwater drinking supplies in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania.” White has apparently earned more than $2.6 million as a board member for BJ Services Co. since 2003.
  • The victims of last Saturday’s daytime ambush in Cuidad Juarez may have been mistaken  for other targets, authorities announced Tuesday. The San Antonio Express-News reports the FBI is investigating whether the hit men allegedly involved in the slayings followed the wrong vehicles after an afternoon party at the house of an employee at the U.S. Consulate in the border city. Two U.S. citizens were killed, including a four-months pregnant employee of the consulate’s office, sparking fears  that U.S. citizens are now firmly in the crosshairs of Mexican drug cartels and their henchmen. The investigation into  a possible mistake, however, has  the FBI stating that may not be the case. ““We don't have any information that these folks were directly targeted because of their employment by the U.S. government or their U.S. citizenship,” FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said, according to the report.
  • The Texas Enterprise Fund will go under the microscope before next year’s legislative session if the Texas House Committee on Technology, Economic Development & Workforce successfully carries out one of its interim charges. A notice announcing next week’s meeting states that awards to companies from the TEF will be analyzed to determine how they have “impacted job creation, capital investment, and economic development in the state.” The awards are administered by Gov. Perry’s office and have been the source of scathing criticism by those who view the dollars as nothing more than Perry’s personal “slush fund.”

MUST READ:

Dallas-Fort Worth economy ranked among nation's strongestThe Dallas Morning News

Calderón visits while Juárez seethes: President offers plan to 'rescue' cityEl Paso Times

What Values Are Apparent in Your School Textbooks?The New York Times

Nursing a HabitTexas Tribune 

Cause of fatal bus crash in Texas unknownAssociated Press

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