is executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, where he writes regular columns on politics, government and public policy. Before joining the Tribune, Ross was editor and co-owner of Texas Weekly. He did a 28-month stint in government as associate deputy comptroller for policy and director of communications with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Before that, he reported for the Houston Chronicle from its Austin bureau and for the Dallas Times Herald, first on the business desk in Dallas and later as its Austin bureau chief, and worked as a Dallas-based freelance business writer, writing for regional and national magazines and newspapers. Ross got his start in journalism in broadcasting, covering news for radio stations in Denton and Dallas.
We liked it better when stories about baby boomers were about hip-huggers and greasy hair and loud music, but the most self-centered generation in modern America is getting old. That ain't news in and of itself, but it presents a whole slew of things for people in government and business to think about and Texas actually has dispatched a team to start doing some of that thinking.
Only two months into the current budget, the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (TCADA for short) has discovered it has $57 million less than it thought, partly because the agency has less money on hand than it forecast and partly because it's spending money faster than it knew.
The little ol' Texas budget is suddenly national news, and with the misinformation sure to float up in the backwash of political advertising, it's probably a good idea to pull the numbers together to see when various finger-pointers are telling the truth and when they're fibbing.
Handicapping the Senate race in San Antonio? Trying to figure out where everyone will be sitting when the music stops? You can tell what at least some of the political folks in that city are thinking, just by the fact that only one House seat -- the one now occupied by Rep. Leticia Van de Putte -- has drawn really active interest from candidates who want her job. So far, the seat that would be left open if Rep. Leo Alvarado Jr. wins the special election to replace Sen. Gregory Luna has drawn some tire-kickers but no sure-fire buyers, while the candidates looking at the Van de Putte seat are already working the district and the local lobby and the finance people and the Austin crowd.
If you don't live in San Antonio or Houston or a handful of other places that have sports arenas and Senate races and other interesting issues before the voters, the November ballot offers up a treat only a civics proctor could love: 17 constitutional amendments that, for the most part, don't even offer the thrill of controversy or everyday relevance.
Sen. Gregory Luna's decision to retire from his seat, and to do so in time to allow a November 2 election, prompted a week of political scurrying and speculating in the San Antonio Democrat's district. The final take on who's running and who's not will be available at 5 p.m. October 4 (after our deadline). But Gov. George W. Bush's decision to hold the vote in November sets up a sprint that will be harder on political newcomers than on veteran officeholders.
When Gov. George W. Bush took office in 1995, he was half-surrounded by Democrats in statewide offices and could reasonably expect to fight some skirmishes now and then. Now that he's surrounded by Republicans, you might think those days are all in the past. But from the governor's standpoint, the education task force announced by Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander rivals at least some of what the Democrats did in his first four years in the Mansion.
Sen. J.E. "Buster" Brown, R-Lake Jackson, isn't up for reelection next year, so his admission that he groped a 20-year-old employee who worked in his district office won't get an immediate look from voters -- at least not the voters in his district.
If this was a television drama, Gov. George W. Bush might have been ordered to give a deposition to tell what he knew about the Texas Funeral Commission's efforts to fine the nation's biggest funeral home operator. But it ain't TV and he wasn't so ordered. The state's attorneys argued that he didn't have any special knowledge that would shed light on the whistle-blower case, and that was that.
If you've ever tried to peel a kid away from a computer game or a Saturday morning cartoon, you understand something about the hold population data has on the average state or federal legislator. We're heading into that twilight zone known as a redistricting year. That explains, in part, why there are so few open seats in the Legislature right now. It explains why rural lawmakers are fidgety and why suburban Republicans are smirking, and it explains why some of the money people on both sides are probably going to stay out of campaign fights as much as possible next year.
A common explanation of cancer treatment is that they hit you for months with large doses of something fatal, and if it kills the cancer before it kills you, you're cured. That serves as a nice metaphor for presidential politics: If you survive the examination and treatment by your opponents, the media and the public, you get to live in the White House.
Forget all that stuff about the race for lieutenant governor being quiet, secretive, and completely underwater. Sen. David Sibley, R-Waco, has moved upstage with a whirlwind set of meetings with senators to tell them he'd like the job and to begin to try to build support.
Republicans in Texas have relied for years on a rating system called ORVS, or Optimum Republican Voting Strength, that combines results of recent elections to show which parts of the state are friendly to the GOP. The latest numbers are out, and while there are few surprises, the charts do provide something of a road map to the GOP's targets in the next election cycle.