The Big Conversation
The Steve Patterson era on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin is expected to end officially today at a special meeting of the university system's board of regents.
Up for approval, as the Tribune's Matthew Watkins reports, is a separation agreement for the athletics director whose tenure on the 40 Acres lasted a couple months short of two years.
Patterson will depart less than two years into a contract running through August 2019 under which he earned $1.4 million a year, plus raises, a car allowance and other perks. Paid everything his contract promised, he'd receive more than $5 million, but the final agreement is expected to be less than that.
Fenves has declined to comment on the exit agreement until it is formally approved. Patterson, who had a strained relationship with fans and donors after raising football ticket prices and making other major changes, hasn't agreed to any interviews since his departure was announced.
Patterson is being replaced by Houston lawyer and former UT football player Mike Perrin on an interim basis.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
Trib Must Reads
State, Breeders Clash Over Fatal Deer Disease, by Eleanor Dearman – When a fatal, incurable disease was found among deer at a Medina County breeding facility, state wildlife officials moved quickly to limit its reach. But breeders say the state's cure might be worse than the disease, and some are threatening to sue.
Analysis: More Voices, and Perhaps, More Headaches, by Ross Ramsey – Allowing more people to register their opinions on issues before state legislators is technologically easy. But is it really something legislators want to do?
Panetti Case Argued Again Before 5th Circuit, by Johnathan Silver – The 23-year saga that is the Scott Panetti death penalty case returned to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday as lawyers argued over whether the 57-year-old is competent enough to be executed, and who should pay to determine that.
Analysis: When "We" Doesn't Include You, by Ross Ramsey – When you read a letter from Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter, there is a chance he wrote it. And there is a chance it was written by someone in the oil and gas industry he's supposed to be regulating.
2 State Women's Health Programs to Consolidate in July, by Alexa Ura – Following a directive from the Legislature, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced Wednesday that it would combine two of the state's main women’s health programs to create the “Healthy Texas Women” program on July 1.
Tarrant County Defends Right to Charge Poor Petitioners, by Jordan Rudner – The Texas Supreme Court scrutinized the legality of court costs imposed on indigent plaintiffs — in this case, fees the Tarrant County clerk’s office charged six poor plaintiffs pursuing divorces — during oral arguments on Wednesday.
A gyrating chair to treat PTSD in ailing vets?, The Dallas Morning News
New facility sparks hope for sex offenders and downtrodden town, Houston Chronicle
Students add overlooked voice to school finance case, Austin American-Statesman
After ex-prosecutor’s claims, auditor’s offices scrutinize Dallas County DA’s office, The Dallas Morning News
Attorney says Jay players to spend 75 days in alternative school, San Antonio Express-News
Governor directs transportation agency to fix worst choke points on state’s roads, The Dallas Morning News
Capitol’s historic fence may take months to restore after car crash, Austin American-Statesman
Ethics agency and conservative activist spar in appeals court over lobbying case, San Antonio Express-News
Mayor race only now heading to TV, Houston Chronicle
Quote to Note
"Any help we can get from anyone on that would be great."
— U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, on speculation that the Pope will discuss climate change during his joint address to the U.S. Congress on Thursday
Today in TribTalk
Nontraditional students are the new majority, by Veronica Vargas Stidvent – How higher education evolves and adapts to meet the needs of today’s diverse student population will be critical to Texas’ long-term ability to satisfy workforce demands and remain prosperous and competitive.
News From Home
Before Hurricane Rita barreled into Southeast Texas on Sept. 24, 2005, there was a disaster of another kind. Evacuees who drove out of the area ahead of the storm were stuck in the heat on stranded roads. Fuel shortages plagued the area, and fragile populations struggled to evacuate. State and local officials say they're better prepared for the next big storm, but concerns remain. Read our seven-part "Road From Rita" series, done in collaboration with the Beaumont Enterprise.
Trib Events for the Calendar
• 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