Of all the issues that the Legislature tackled last year, few were as unlikely as pension reform. When it comes to entitlements, the people who benefit from the status quo are usually suspicious of change, and the pols who are supposed to keep our finances sound are usually too concerned with the here and now to worry about how much money the government is going to have to hand out years down the line.
Yesterday, when we unveiled the cover of our July issue featuring Rick Perry, we also told you about "The Perry Report Card," an upcoming magazine feature where, as the title suggests, we graded the tenure of the governor on eight areas of public policy. We invited you to weigh in with your own grades for Perry on the subject of transparency and ethics. Under consideration today is his work on criminal justice.
Perry is (in)famously tough on crime. He fully endorses the use of the ultimate punishment (when warranted), and to that end has signed off on more executions than any other governor in modern history. And his record on that is unlikely to be exceeded, because the number of death sentences issued in Texas has dropped sharply since 2005--when he signed a law giving juries the option of sentencing murderers to life without parole. And that's just one of the ways in which his record is more nuanced than one might think. At the end of this past legislative session, he signed the Michael Morton Act (which is designed to prevent wrongful criminal convictions) into law, and earlier this year, he also came out in favor of letting states choose if marijuana should be decriminalized in their communities.
On April 29 a media frenzy erupted over a botched execution in Oklahoma. The story is now familiar: a doctor administered a three-drug cocktail to convicted murderer Clayton Lockett.
There are three Texan Republicans who may run for president in 2016--Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul (the senator from Kentucky, who grew up in Texas and appeared at the state Republican convention this weekend). I don't think any of them could make it across the finish line. But there is a real possibility that one of them could be the vice-presidential candidate. And the envelope, please...
It’s become a familiar scene, especially in Texas: an innocent man walks out of prison, where he’s met by an exuberant crowd of family, lawyers, and journalists. The members of his family hug him, cry, and laugh with relief. His lawyers stand before the gathered press and raise serious questions about how the state could have made such a terrible mistake to lock up an innocent man.
As Texas hurdles headlong into campaign season, one name will be notably absent from the ballot: Rick Perry. For fourteen years and three gubernatorial election cycles, the man from Paint Creek has held the position, making him the longest-serving governor in Texas history. And so before we fully turn our focus to the players who have emerged in his wake, we first wanted to assess Perry's legacy:
The Republican party platform is divorced from reality. Texas is a huge state with a huge economy, and Republicans are talking about converting gay citizens to being straight--one of the most backward ideas I can imagine--and taking a hard line on immigration. Both issues will set the party back and embolden their opponents.
In December 2008 I interviewed Rick Perry over lunch at a small Mexican restaurant in East Austin. We dined on typical Tex-Mex fare, and Perry was in high spirits as he recounted his latest triumph: persuading Caterpillar to move one of its main manufacturing facilities to Seguin. Perry has always been animated when I’ve talked with him, and that afternoon was no different, as he shifted in his chair or tugged on the cuffs of his pants or changed the subject in mid-sentence.
Does anyone other than me regard it as strange that Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, has a role at the Republican state convention that could fairly be described as minimal?
Abbott is scheduled to make three appearances at the convention:
(1) He will address the convention Friday at 2 p.m.
(2) He and his wife will host a meet and greet from 3-4:30 p.m.
(3) He will attend a D-Day "Salute to Veterans" with his brother, Bud.