TribWeek: In Case You Missed It
Galbraith's three-parter on the battle over wind power transmission lines, Grissom on a convicted killer who got probation, Aguilar on how the U.S. census counts inmates in the Texas prison system, Stiles launches a new interactive tool tracking the candidates for governor, Hamilton on the Texas A&M University System's latest accountability measure for faculty, Hu's interview with Democratic megadonor Steve "Back to Basics" Mostyn, Philpott on how the Texas economy compares to that of other states and Ramsey on the start of the 2010 election sprint: The best of our best from Sept. 6 to 10, 2010.
Texas already harvests more wind power than any state in the nation, bringing the promise of clean energy to millions of homes and businesses. Trouble is, getting that power from remote, windy West Texas to the big cities requires a massive, $5 billion network of transmission lines — which property owners in the Hill County and elsewhere don't want in their back yards. As construction gets under way on the new lines, an army of lawyers and angry landowners is working to stymie the state's renewable energy plans. Part one of a three-part series.
The epicenter of the fight over the state's wind power transmission lines is the Hill Country, where landowners are spending lots of money and time to keep the lines from being built. They're trotting out every conceivable argument, and they may just succeed.
While West Texas has become the nation's wind-power hub, the Panhandle's ferocious winds go largely untapped. That could change with a slew of proposed transmission line projects that could, in turn, enable forests of turbines — if landowners can be soothed.
Tow truck driver Steven Hardin was shot and killed in April 1998 by Houston firefighter Barry Crawford during a dispute over a parking space. At the end of a high-profile trial, a jury found Crawford guilty of first-degree murder but sentenced him only to probation. A judge required the convicted killer to comply with various terms, including the payment of child support to the victim's family, but he failed to do all he was ordered. Nonetheless, a few months ago, he was released from his probation, leaving Hardin's mother with no recourse but to lobby for a change in state law.
Almost 157,000 inmates in the Texas prison system were counted by the U.S. Census Bureau as living where they're incarcerated and not as residents of their home counties — a policy that some opponents argue has dire political and economic consequences.
Like a conglomerate auditing balance sheets, the Texas A&M University System has for six months been dissecting the financial contribution of every faculty member on its 11 campuses around the state, subtracting the salary of each from the tuition and research money he or she brings in. The resulting metrics present in stark detail exactly where the system gets the most and least bang for its payroll buck — and have raised the hackles of professors at all levels, who liken the approach to grading assembly-line workers on widget production.
Introducing our latest interactive tool: a map and Twitter stream that monitor where gubernatorial candidates Rick Perry and Bill White are stumping on a given day and over time. Help us between now and Nov. 2 by providing crowdsourced photos and video and links to local news stories.
Already the state's single largest Democratic donor this campaign cycle, Houston attorney Steve Mostyn has pledged to contribute at least $3 million to the party and its causes this year and has no intention of turning off the faucet. The man behind the Back to Basics PAC's "coward" ad sat down with the Tribune last week to talk about why he feels the need to give, the influence of money in Texas politics, how "trial lawyer" became a perjorative and what he really thinks of the Democrats' chances this fall.
Rick Perry asserts the Texas economy is one of the strongest in the nation. Bill White eagerly points out what he says are the problems the governor conveniently overlooks. Who's right?
The start of the 2010 election sprint finds Texas Republicans feverish: Even the sober ones think they could snatch up to 10 more state House seats. Democrats maintain they can still wrest majority control away from the GOP.
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