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The Brief: April 6, 2010

Early voting in the April 13 primary runoffs continues today. Meanwhile, the general election race for governor is already simmering.

Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White

THE BIG CONVERSATION

Early voting in the April 13 primary runoffs continues today.  Meanwhile, the general election race for governor is already simmering.

Today, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White is expected to make an announcement taking Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry to task for the state’s dropout rate.

“The bottom line on so many education issues is that Perry doesn't care,” says White spokesman Katy Bacon, “even though his letting Texas students fall behind is endangering our economic future. All he cares about is making himself look good and preserving his political career.”

White has been questioning many of the stats Perry spouts from the stump.  Recently, White issued a press release asking Perry “to stop using false statistics and to stop misleading the public about border crime in speeches and on websites.”

When it comes to the dropout rate, statisticians have historically seemed to struggle to paint an accurate picture.  Here’s a Texas Tribune run down of the different approaches to counting dropouts and why they are each, in their own way, problematic.

Perry’s campaign, meanwhile, has made it a daily practice to question White’s handling of his taxes and his unwillingness to release his past returns.  White did release his 2009 returns, arguing that in doing so he matched Perry’s practice of releasing returns in the years he’s occupied or run for statewide office.  Of course, for Perry, that covers a much lengthier span of time. 

In yesterday’s tax-related release highlighting that White is “facing an ethics complaint following his failure to report $83,677 in wages from Wedge Group on his 2009 personal financial statement,” Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, “Bill White has a history of trying to hide the sources of his income. The only way for Bill White to come clean is to release his tax returns. Mr. Bill, what are you afraid of?”

Look for this sort of thing to go on.  The election is seven months away.

CULLED:

• State Rep. Norma Chávez, D-El Paso, began the early voting season with what one might call a bit of a misstep.  After bringing up the sexual orientation of her opponent, Naomi Gonzalez, in a speech, Chávez had to walk it back, saying, “My opponent’s sexual orientation has no bearing on this campaign. This campaign should be about who is going to be the most effective legislator for El Paso in the Texas House."  Meanwhile, a laundry list of El Paso politicians condemned her behavior and demanded she apologize. “"We wholeheartedly reject Rep. Chávez’s politics of bigotry and division," they said.

• Now for something completely different: The new House Select Committee on Government Efficiency & Accountability chaired by Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, will hold its first hearing today.  According to the public notice, they will “discuss current initiatives/technologies to improve transparency in state government.”

• Get on board — the public testimony train is hitting the road today.  Yesterday, testimony was taken at the Capitol on a rule that would allow more low-level radioactive waste to be transported, processed, and stored in West Texas. KUT's Erika Aguilar has a rundown of that event here. This evening, public testimony will be taken on the same subject in Andrews, which currently accepts and stores hazardous waste, beginning at 6 p.m.

“It’s a religious experience to vote for Craig Watkins.” — Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins

MUST READ:

Doctors protest Medicare changes San Antonio Express-News

Metroplex families avoiding homelessness with federal stimulus money — Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Judges question census methodsThe Brownsville Herald

Good economic news sends oil prices higherHouston Chronicle

Two Hours in JuarezThe Texas Tribune

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