Let the graders be graded: “The Perry Report Card,” an eight-point assessment of our departing governor’s highs and lows, drew two notable and thoughtfully critical missives. Wrote Michael L. Williams, the Commissioner of Education: “Public education is flourishing under Governor Perry’s leadership, and the steps we’ve taken will enable a generation of young Texans to acquire the skills they will need in our evolving economy.” Richard A. Hyde, the executive director of the TCEQ, was equally disapproving of the D+ we gave Perry on the matter of the environment. Said Hyde, “To support the conclusions made in your assessment of Texas’s environmental record . . . , Texas Monthly relied more on conjecture than statistical analysis.” He went on to offer fifteen examples of Texas’s demonstrable progress during Perry’s tenure. You can read both responses in full on BurkaBlog, over at texasmonthly.com.

And now a sampling of feedback from our readers:

Making the Grades

Why am I not surprised that Rick Perry can’t figure out if he is exiting stage right or stage left? Thank goodness for Texas he is going, no matter which direction he takes.
Kimberly Culver, Friendswood

What a bummer. In just one month you went from King George looking great on the cover to Governor Goodhair in his new presidential-looking glasses. At least he is waving goodbye after fourteen long years.
Mike Reagan, Pasadena

You could have used an image of a fence post or a bag of rocks on your cover and that would have gotten the correct message across much better.
Bob Stepp, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Thanks for the update on our long-term governor. I believe you have graded Rick Perry [“The Perry Report Card”] in eight areas, with grades of C, B, D+, A, D, B–, D–, and C. Assuming each grade is for a three-hour course, he earned for his many years in office a grade point average of 2.1, which is a low C. That grade will not get him into any graduate program at a Texas university, nor will it get him into the executive suite at the White House. Sorry, Rick. Maybe he should consider an economic development position at Paint Creek or somewhere on the Texas border, where all the immigrants are crossing with no controls. They will need jobs after crossing the border. Of course, he will have to do this without the benefit of the taxpayer-funded Texas Enterprise Fund or the Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Good luck, Rick, as you move out of the Governor’s Mansion and into the real-world workforce.
Gerald Skidmore, Huntsville 

I do not agree totally with your “report card” on Rick Perry. The economy is everything! If my personal finances are good, I can move to a neighborhood with great schools, and I can get superior health care. We live in The Woodlands and feel we have the best of everything. We have neighbors on either side of us who have moved from California and Michigan, both states that are very depressed. We continually meet people flooding to this state for jobs. I’ll repeat it: the economy and economic growth affect everything else! Rick Perry did a great job!
Kim Radford, The Woodlands

To Paul Burka, Brian D. Sweany, and the other contributing writers of “The Perry Report Card” and “Guv Story,” I submit the following grade for all of you: F+! Your biased articles about a governor who has made Texas into the most prosperous, successful, job-creating state in America has made me mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore! At least not without a response.

Have any of you lived in or visited other states in the U.S. in the past fourteen years? What you’ll find in most other states are economic disasters, taxation that makes the normal family scrape by, foreclosures, no new building or infrastructure improvements, and mass migration to a place such as Texas, where everything is the opposite. By the way, have you even noticed the vast improvements to the highway system across the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex? Or the “Now Hiring” signs everywhere in the state?

If anything, Rick Perry deserves an A+++ for making Texas such a wonderful place to live, with such great opportunities for families and people of all ages, creeds, and nationalities to prosper if they wish to do so. This country would be fortunate and lucky and grateful to have the leadership of Rick Perry in its highest office. I pray he runs again for POTUS. If every voter could see how Texas has climbed to such a high level of opportunity for all, each of them would vote for Governor Perry!
Sharon Psarianos, via email

Governor Perry had a golden opportunity to leave Texas much better off than when he found it, but he squandered that opportunity. Texas’s infrastructure has deteriorated under his watch. Some future governor of Texas and some future generation of Texas taxpayers will pay the price for his negligence. Texas’s roads used to be the best in the nation. Now they are worse than New Mexico’s. It can all be attributed to his shortsighted mantra of “Don’t ever raise taxes on anything, ever, for any reason.”
Tom Wright, El Paso

Having read Paul Burka’s excellent “Guv Story” and the truthful “The Perry Report Card,” both showing how mediocre our fourteen-year governor really was (and is), I must point out that the misleadingly incorrect cover line, “Rick Perry Exits the Stage,” does not show how Perry-weary Texans feel. I would have preferred the more representative title “Adiós, Mofo!”
Dan Morrow, Plano

Take a Bow

Thanks for the terrific article [“The Strings of the Father”] on Johnny Gimble, my multi-talented childhood barber! While his day job was cutting hair at Woodrow Wilson’s barbershop in Waco’s Park Lake shopping center, on Saturday nights he joined Clyde “Barefoot” Chesser for live performances on Channel 7 KCEN TV from Temple. He was always terrific! Thanks again.
Travis Ballew, Red Bank, New Jersey

What a great story! I was first struck by the joy, love, and grace that Johnny practiced with his music his whole life, but I was moved even more by the experience of a father and his son as they developed their own love and camaraderie by learning and playing music together. A love of music has to be one of the strongest things parents can share with their children. And lastly, I was reminded, once again, that your magazine has no peer when it comes to its writing and editing.
John Goodman, Raleigh, North Carolina  

Race Results

“Race and Relations” contained typical texas monthly thought-provoking reading. As a conservative Texan, I often immediately see the liberal bias in your articles, but because I am not a closed-minded, myopic thinker, I don’t slam the magazine down on a table and fire off a threat to cancel my subscription. We conservatives have had to live with liberal bias in the media for most of my lifetime. The sinful ownership and treatment of slavery speaks well for its egregious self in the article. The true bias in this piece came through near the end, when the reader is warned that “Texas’s current political leadership has lashed out so angrily and reflexively at our first black president.” I could list a thousand reasons why Americans have issues with our current president and his administration, and absolutely none of them have to do with his race (which is half-Caucasian). It seems to me that the statement I quote from this article is racist in that Texans are somehow not allowed by progressive-thinking liberals to take issue with our president simply because of the color of his skin. When I (often) took issue with Mr. Bush as governor and then as president, by reasoning of texas monthly I would be a racist against white people, not an independent, critical thinker who merely wants something better for his state and country.
Michael Abney, via email

While reading your July 2014 issue (I really wish I hadn’t paid retail for it!), I came upon “Race and Relations,” by Michael Ennis, and now I can’t get this boiling in my blood to subside. I found the story about Tomlinson Hill fascinating, coming from mixed Hispanic and freed-slave heritage myself. What I found repulsive was Mr. Ennis’s propagandizing of an otherwise wonderfully honest and historical narrative. It is beyond a stretch to compare the author’s Klan-hood-wearing grandfather to Republicans who disagree with the ultraliberal president simply because he is black. And please tell me again why it is not racist to expect folks to have an ID to purchase alcohol but it is to determine the leader of the greatest country on earth? This is the epitome of race-baiting. Furthermore, your magazine’s obviously progressive liberalism has become so increasingly transparent over the years that it’s shameful. If only there were a Texas publication that were truly Texan. It should be needless to say that I will never buy another texas monthly again (however shall I know if you decide to publish this letter?).
Santos Singleterry Jr., Rockport

An Affair to Remember

After our extended family’s two daughters’ recent weddings, it was with much appreciation that I read “Mother of the Bride.” Thanks to Ruth Pennebaker for so artfully expressing everything that has passed through my conscious and unconscious mind. I was able to share her emotions and reflections all over again, because they run so deeply and universally.
TC, via texasmonthly.com

You have outdone yourself with this piece on your life. Took my breath away.
Sheryl, via texasmonthly.com