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The Brief: May 7, 2014

The word "mess" doesn't even begin to describe what greeted the new director of the state agency that supervises the state's most violent sex offenders when she showed up to work.

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The Big Conversation

The word "mess" doesn't even begin to describe what greeted the new director of the state agency that supervises the state's most violent sex offenders when she showed up to work.

This is how the Houston Chronicle's Mike Ward and Anita Hassan began their compelling report on the level of neglect that had overtaken the agency:

When Marsha McLane showed up to her new job as director of the embattled state agency that supervises Texas' most violent sex offenders, she found her office stacked with dusty cardboard boxes, dead crickets littering the dirty carpet, no computer and telephones that did not connect with those of any other employees. Wanted posters of sex offenders decorated the walls.

The three employees in the office worked in separate cubicles, amid a maze of workstations occupied by employees of another state agency that shared the office space. In fact, McLane quickly determined that most of her agency's 26 employees worked from their homes, as had her predecessor, apparently for years.

In short, officials said Tuesday, the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management was an agency without a headquarters.

Ward and Hassan have been covering the shake-up at the Office of Violent Sex Offender Management since they reported on a plan to move some high-risk sex offenders into a north Houston neighborhood and into a facility in Liberty County. In both cases, local officials were not notified.

Other details unearthed by Ward and Hassan in the latest report include the discovery that the most recent executive director, Allison Taylor, worked from home and was rarely seen by employees. She resigned Thursday. Also, the agency's general counsel, who left the agency on Monday, had her state office in the same suite as her private practice, something she continued even though she was considered a full-time employee of the agency.

The Day Ahead

•    WFAA and The Texas Tribune moderate a roundtable with the two GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick. Head over to the Tribune to watch the debate live. The fun starts at 10:30 a.m.

Today in the Trib

In ACA Foster Youth Provision, Texas Faces Tough Task: "A little-known provision of the Affordable Care Act grants certain young adults who were formerly in foster care extended health coverage through Medicaid until they turn 26. But locating and enrolling them could prove tough."

Analysis: Minor Parties Still Matter, Even If They Lose: "If a Libertarian or a Green Party candidate won a race for the Texas Legislature or statewide office, it would be a first. But those candidates can determine who does get into office."

PUC to Revisit Loophole for Small Electric Generators: "Texas regulators will take a fresh look at an eight-year-old rule that allows smaller electricity generators to 'swim free' of rules designed to root out manipulation of the wholesale energy market."

Hall's Lawyer Accuses Committee of Withholding Information: "An attorney for embattled UT System Regent Wallace Hall issued a letter to the co-chairs of a legislative committee investigating the regent on Tuesday accusing them of withholding information that would exonerate the regent."

Judge Agrees to Release Murderer "Bernie" Backed by Austin Filmmaker: "Nearly two decades after Bernie Tiede shot 81-year-old Marjorie Nugent and tucked her body in a deep freezer, a judge has released him on bond. The filmmaker Richard Linklater will house Tiede in his Austin garage apartment."


Davis, targeted by Abbott on ethics, hits back, San Antonio Express-News

Allen Police Association withdraws endorsement of Ken Paxton for AG, The Dallas Morning News

Perry said he didn't initiate any deal in Lehmberg case, San Antonio Express-News

Ted Cruz Builds His Case for 2016, Bloomberg View

Worse global warming effects ahead for Texas, federal report says, The Dallas Morning News

VA employee: Wait list data was manipulated in Austin, San Antonio, Austin American-Statesman

Council expected to okay equal rights ordinance, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"Sticking your hand in a catfish's mouth when you can't see it is kinda risky. You may end up with a beaver. You may end up with a snake. You never know what you're going to get when you reach your hand in that hole."

Bill Creed, who is organizing what is billed as Texas' first noodling tournament, explains what would seem obvious — that noodling carries risks

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•    A Conversation With Rep. Dan Branch, Candidate for Attorney General, at the Austin Club, 5/8

•    A Conversation With U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director, at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller, at the Austin Club, 5/29

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