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The Brief: Sept. 18, 2015

The pushback continues against last weekend's Houston Chronicle report on George P. Bush missing work for his father's presidential campaign. This time, it's another major Texas daily that is questioning the original analysis.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush speaks with Nevadans before a meet-and-greet on June 17, 2015, in Reno. He spent the day in the state stumping for his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Big Conversation

The pushback continues against last weekend's Houston Chronicle report on George P. Bush missing work to campaign for his father's presidential campaign. This time, it's another major Texas daily — the Austin American-Statesman — that is questioning the original analysis.

The Statesman's J. David McSwane reported that a review of Bush's calendar supplemented by a look at news reports and social media posts "shows the land commissioner has missed slightly more than seven full days of state work to help with his dad’s campaign. That figure was independently confirmed this week by General Land Office spokeswoman Brittany Eck and Sandra Ortiz, George P. Bush’s scheduler ... He has spent about 15 percent of his work days supporting his father’s campaign — in Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and Florida — since the former Florida governor officially entered the race on June 15."

Those numbers differ drastically from the Chronicle report that claimed Bush has been gone from work nearly half the time since his father officially started his campaign for president.

McSwane talked to an instructor at the Poynter Institute, which offers training to journalists. The instructor said the Chronicle's reporter might have gotten into trouble by relying on Bush's work calendar alone when conducting his analysis:

“It’s a rough account of what is on the schedule,” said [Al] Tompkins, a co-author of the book “Newsroom Ethics.”

“Even that isn’t the definitive word because the calendar isn’t a full accounting,” he added.

The calendar reflects only that which was scheduled, but not all work is scheduled, and in the laptop era working remotely or at off hours has become commonplace.

Trib Must-Reads

As Race for Youth Vote Heats Up, Cruz Makes His Play, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is making an organized push for the youth vote with the help of a 13-year-old activist named CJ Pearson.

Analysis: Citizen Feedback, Without the Road Trip, by Ross Ramsey – After a committee confrontation and a state police investigation, there's still a question about allowing people who aren't in the Capitol to register their support or opposition to legislation: Why not?

Workplace Deaths Up in Texas, Which Still Tops List, by Jim Malewitz – The number of people killed on the job in Texas increased in 2014, and the state retained its grim spot as the county’s leader in workplace deaths, according to preliminary federal data released Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Neugebauer Won't Seek Re-election, by Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston — U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election in 2016. Neugebauer has represented his West Texas district in Congress for seven terms.

As Cruz Sours on Roberts, Past Support Draws Attention, by Patrick Svitek — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is finding a new pressure point in his proxy war with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: the decision by Bush's brother to nominate John Roberts, a growing target of conservative scorn, to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Day Ahead

•    Former U.S. Census Bureau Director Steve Murdock will lead the discussion on Latino demographic trends during a 1 p.m. open public panel at the Latino Center for Leadership Development's Leadership Academy in Dallas.


Pro-Perry Super PACs Give Back MillionsCenter for Public Integrity 

ICE announces caseworker program for immigrant families, San Antonio Express-News

Testimony: Bergdahl’s disappearance met with “utter disbelief,” frantic search, San Antonio Express-News

UT Regent Wallace Hall calls for an inspector general for universities, Austin American-Statesman

Carly Fiorina’s second debate triumph could prove costly to Ted Cruz, Austin American-Statesman

Abortion Bills Advance, Setting Up a Showdown, The New York Times

Gay Republicans fear exclusion from GOP convention, Houston Chronicle 

Former CEO says he paid Paxton to act as 'political adviser', Houston Chronicle 

Immigrant mother arrested at gynecologist's office draws national attention, Houston Chronicle 

Quote to Note

“The last thing we want to do is put handcuffs on a kid unjustifiably. Just call this a tragic situation. It looks like the commitment to law enforcement may have gone too far and didn’t balance all the facts.”

– Gov. Greg Abbott on the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old student from Irving who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school. 

News From Home

•    The latest episode of The Ticket, a co-production of the Tribune and KUT is out. Jay Root and Ben Philpott look back at key moments from the 2016 campaign, and they talk with Jennifer Rubin, writer of The Washington Post's Right Turn blog, about how the GOP field is handling Donald Trump.

Today in TribTalk

Reform the Land Office? Give it a Reboot? Really?, by Jerry Patterson – George P. Bush claims to have “cleaned up” things at the General Land Office. And his staff’s terse rebuttal to a story on his absences from the office stated he and his team would continue to be focused on “reform” and a “reboot” of the Land Office. But several stats show the office doesn't need reform, and morale is actually plummeting among agency employees.

News From Home

Check out our latest reporting collaboration, a seven-part series done in partnership with the Beaumont Enterprise on the "Road From Rita." Here's the third installment:

Many Texans trying to flee Hurricane Rita ran out of gas. The next time a hurricane forces Gulf Coast residents to flee, state officials say such a nightmarish scenario is less likely to occur.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves on Sept. 21 in Austin

•    A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

•    A Conversation on The Environment: The Next Five Years on Sept. 28 in Corpus Christi

•    A Conversation on Criminal Justice: The Next Five Years on Oct. 6 in Huntsville

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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