Nate Blakeslee

Senior editor Nate Blakeslee joined the staff in 2006. He is the author of Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town, a book based on a story he broke in 2000 about a police corruption scandal in the Texas Panhandle. His original story, for the Texas Observer, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s highest honor, and led to follow-up coverage in the national and international media. In 2001 Blakeslee was named a finalist for the Livingston Young Journalist Award, and in 2004 he won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award for his drug war reporting in the Observer. Blakeslee’s reporting on Tulia eventually resulted in a major reorganization of the state’s drug enforcement bureaucracy and the exoneration of some three dozen wrongfully convicted individuals. The book, which was supported by a Soros Justice Fellowship from the Open Society Institute, was featured on a number of year-end lists of best books and was named a Notable Book of 2005 by the New York Times. It won the J. Anthony Lukas book prize and the Texas Institute of Letters best book of nonfiction prize and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction. In 2007, while Blakeslee was a contributing writer for the Observer, he broke the story of sexual misconduct at a Texas Youth Commission prison for juveniles in the West Texas town of Pyote. The events described in the award-winning story became a major scandal and led to the firing or resignation of virtually all of the agency’s top officials in Austin and the indictment of two former officials at the prison. Blakeslee was recognized by the Texas Legislature for his reporting on the story. He was born and raised in Arlington and has a master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, where his field of study was the civil rights movement. He lives in Austin with his wife, Karen Poff, and their two children.

Stories

Who Will Watch the Watchers?

Heightened security measures along the border—including a dramatic increase in personnel and highly sophisticated military equipment—have made that part of our state resemble a war zone. As violent clashes with Mexican citizens increase, a crucial question emerges: Who will hold the U.S. Border Patrol accountable?

Better Off Red

It’s not all sweetness and light in the grapefruit groves of the Rio Grande Valley.

The Best and Worst Legislators 2011

For the Eighty-second Legislature (our twentieth at the Capitol), everything old was new again: the state faced a budget deficit; the governor harbored presidential ambitions; the members of the Best list were hard to find; and the names on the Worst list picked themselves.

Crash Test

Over the past two decades a movement to increase the importance of standardized testing in public schools has swept across the country. It was born in Texas. Is Texas also where it might die?

Primary Targets

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the most powerful (and feared) activist at the Capitol. So who is he?

Drawing Straws

The future is likely going to require us to move large amounts of water from wet but sparsely populated places (a.k.a. East Texas) to thirsty, booming cities. Good thing there’s a plan for that. There is a plan, right?

Home on the Range?

Texas Parks and Wildlife has embarked on an ambitious plan to restore the desert bighorn sheep population in Big Bend Ranch State Park. To accomplish this goal, the department has had to make hard choices about which animals live, which animals die, and what truly belongs in the Trans-Pecos.

Up in the Air

No state has defied the federal government’s environmental regulations more fiercely than Texas, and no governor has been more outspoken about the “job-killing” policies of the EPA than Rick Perry. But does that mean we can all breathe easy?

20 Sessions

A brief history of every Legislature we’ve ever covered.

Night of the Living Ed

With public education facing an estimated $7 billion in cuts, the question on everyone’s mind is, Are Texas schools doomed? So we assembled a group of dinner guests (a superintendent, advocates on both sides, an education union rep, and the commissioner of the Texas Education Agency) to find out. Check, please?

Power Company

As we head into the most critical legislative session in decades—maybe ever—the question is not just, Who are the people with the most clout at the Capitol? It’s also, What do they want?

Tea for Texas

It has more supporters here than anywhere else. It fueled the Republican landslide. It has its own caucus. But what is the tea party? And how will it use its power?

Business as Usual

Who’s the toughest opponent for Republicans who want to crack down on illegal immigration? Other Republicans.

In Our Backyard

The faces—and voices—of eighteen Texans who are living the debate over illegal immigration.

Near/Far

Despite rampant fears to the contrary, the bloody drug violence in Mexico hasn’t spilled over into Texas—but that doesn’t mean it’s not transforming life all along the border.

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