Your justification for including me on the Ten Worst list was primarily based on your false assertion that I was to blame for the demise of a judicial pay raise bill [“ The Best and Worst Legislators of 2005,” July 2005]. In fact, I voted “present not voting” on the original version of the bill that passed the House and was sent to the Senate. The reason I did not vote up or down on the House-approved version of the bill is because my sister is a state district judge.
When the bill thereafter returned from the Senate, it had been loaded with additional subjects that rendered the bill legally flawed due to violations of a state constitutional prohibition against mixing disparate issues into one bill. I informed my House colleagues in a personal-privilege speech of the constitutional issues as well as of other concerns about the propriety of the Senate’s actions surrounding the bill.
Contrary to your article’s assertion, I did not kill the bill. I never even had the opportunity to do so because the subsequent amended version did not ever come up for consideration on the House floor. That bill died at the session’s end because a senator threatened to filibuster if it didn’t include the other nongermane subjects.
Representative Terry Keel
Editor’s note: The reason that the judicial pay raise bill did not come up for consideration on the House floor is that Mr. Keel gave a speech to the House in which he said, “I will call a constitutional point of order in the House should SB 368 be brought up on this floor for concurrence with the Senate amendments, and I believe the point I have in mind will be sustained.” Mr. Keel’s announced intention to employ a parliamentary maneuver guaranteed to kill the bill made any further attempt to pass it futile.
As an active participant in Texas and national school reform, mostly with the late lieutenant governor Bob Bullock and Governor (and now president) George Bush, I have watched and worked with Representative Kent Grusendorf for many years. In the recent regular session alone, he pushed for more funding for public education. He pushed for needed reform in the areas of greater financial and academic accountability. He pushed for higher standards for our students. He deserves credit for his work. In my view, your negative rating of him is unwarranted.
I am sure your issue ranking the The Best and Worst Legislators is a popular issue, especially with Austin-centric readers. Ranking is an American habit, and I generally applaud and accept it. However, when giving negative rankings to individuals, I believe a high standard should prevail, and there is one such ranking in 2005 to which I object strongly.
Your inclusion of Kent Grusendorf on the Worst list is unfair, in my opinion. Kent Grusendorf has for two decades been an educational reformer, at times alone in the House of Representatives, proposing common-sense politics that have now become mainstream but which have always been strongly resisted by the education establishment, or the “Glob.”
The failure in leadership in public education in 2005 firmly rests with that education establishment. It has taken an arrogant and hostile position on any proposal to improve the system and has openly decided to rely on the courts to get the only thing it wants—more money. Representative Grusendorf was charged with negotiating with the Glob and found it totally uncooperative, especially after its win in district court. For you to hold the chairman of the House Public Education Committee responsible is unfair and not correct.
In the Texas Senate, there were also some attempts to negotiate with the Glob. Reform proposals produced were similar to the House’s. Many members of your Best list of legislators voted for these reforms.
These radical reforms included merit pay for teachers, fiscal accountability for districts, higher academic standards, and dealing, finally, with schools that are abject failures year after year. Now these are really radical reforms! The educators strongly resist all of