The Big Conversation:
Gov. Rick Perry has left his latest mark on a court that already heavily bears his imprint.
Perry on Monday appointed his chief of staff, Jeff Boyd, to fill a vacancy on the Texas Supreme Court left by Dale Wainwright, who resigned in September.
Boyd, who will join the court on Dec. 3, has previously served as the state's deputy attorney general and general counsel to the governor and has worked in the private sector at Thompson & Knight.
"Jeff is a highly-respected attorney who has consistently excelled throughout his years of private practice, his terms of public service, and his leadership of important charitable organizations," Perry said in a press release. "His addition to the court will continue to protect the rule of law and further the tradition of defending the freedoms that Texans so vigorously uphold."
As the Austin American-Statesman notes, Perry has appointed seven of the court's nine current justices. Most of the governor's appointees go on to win re-election, creating a system that critics of Perry's have inevitably said leads to politicization of the state's highest civil court.
Perry has elevated members of his inner circle to the court before, too. In 2004, The Associated Press notes, Perry selected his general counsel at the time, David Medina, to serve as a high court justice. (Medina lost his seat earlier this year in his Republican primary.)
As Andrew Wheat of the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice told the AP, "This is a governor that puts a tremendous value on loyalty and likes to appoint loyalists to state positions far and wide."
- Four days before he is set to be inaugurated as the next president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto will visit the White House today to meet with President Barack Obama and congressional leaders. The meeting, as the Tribune's Julián Aguilar reports, is likely to center on the economy, trade and violence in Mexico, among a host of other daunting issues set to greet Peña Nieto when he takes office.
- Texas cities recorded some of the highest rates of personal income growth in the nation last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (hat tip to Slate). Oil-rich Odessa and Midland ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in personal income growth nationwide, while each of the state's major metropolitan areas — Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso — also landed near the top.
- The Houston Chronicle reports that as poverty rose in Texas during the recession, the number of welfare recipients in the state fell. The decline — a 9 percent drop in the number of welfare caseloads handled by the state between 2007 and 2009 — came as the national rate increased, highlighting the state's strict eligibility regulations.
"When we do it, it is called the 'nuclear option.' When Democrats do it, it is the 'constitutional option.'" — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to The Washington Post on the debate over filibuster reform in the Senate
- Young Perry appointee tries to forge political path in public office, Austin American-Statesman
- Transportation funding moves beyond gas tax, Houston Chronicle
- Hiring a Bush Daughter, to Attract Younger Readers, The New York Times
- Legislature goes mobile for 2013 session, Austin American-Statesman
- Texas Democrats Gained, if Only a Little, in 2012, The Texas Tribune