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The Brief: Top Texas News for Feb. 4, 2011

Heat sounds good right about now, but not the kind the Gov. Rick Perry's taking.

House Speaker Joe Straus, Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst


Heat sounds good right about now, but not the kind the Gov. Rick Perry's taking.

While the coldest temperatures Texas has seen in at least a decade swept through the state, bringing rolling blackouts and shutting schools and businesses, the governor spent the second half of the week in Southern California on a visit to meet with business leaders and celebrate the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth.

Democrats, excited by the visual of Perry basking while Texans back home braved ice and snow, pounced.

"RICK PERRY WAS CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' WHILE TEXANS ENDURED BLACKOUT NIGHTMARE," read the not-so-subtle title of a news release from Kirsten Gray, a spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party. "Rick Perry is a Beverly Hills type of guy — he's focused on becoming a national GOP celebrity but couldn't seem to care less about everyday Texans," she said.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner dismissed the criticism, saying the governor has been dealing with the situation from afar. "It shows the Democrats are out of touch," Miner told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But attention Thursday also turned back to they why's of Wednesday's blackouts. The Tribune's Kate Galbraith reported on the chain of events that set the outages in motion.

Today, the freeze that snared more northern areas is set to bear down on Austin, Houston and South Texas. Blackouts will resume in the Rio Grande Valley, but the rest of the state may get to keep the heat on. Officials are still urging residents to conserve when they can.


  • The Daily Show aired its long-awaited take on anti-Semitism in the House speaker's race last night. Making appearances in correspondent John Oliver's segment: a rabbi, a pastor, several uses of the word 'twas and a dreidel featuring Joe Straus' face. Need we say more?
  • Republican Dan Neil's election contest filed against state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin — whom he faced in November and lost to by 12 votes, according to an initial recount — faced a setback Thursday as another recount, this time of mail-in ballots, showed no evidence that the Travis County clerk's office had mishandled four disputed ballots. A House committee, which will send a recommendation on the matter to the full House, will hear closing arguments Monday.

"It looked like he only had enough votes to carry one district. Instead, he carried eight."The Daily Show's John Oliver on Joe Straus' re-election as speaker


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