Author

Nate Blakeslee

Nate Blakeslee's Profile Photo

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.

News & Politics |
April 8, 2014

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?

Agriculture |
November 14, 2013

Better Off Red

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

Politics & Policy |
July 10, 2013

Scott McCown: The Exit Interview

Reflecting on his ten years as the executive director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a center-left think tank based in Austin, Scott McCown makes the case for why some Texans should be paying higher taxes and explains why Governor Perry’s Texas doesn’t work for everyone.

Politics & Policy |
April 10, 2013

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?

Politics & Policy |
March 18, 2013

James Ives Speaks

The Texas Tribune reported Monday that the president of the Fort Bend County Tea Party formerly served as the “director of propaganda” for the American Fascist Party. Listen to a speech Ives gave in September at Tea Party meeting where he hosted Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Politics & Policy |
January 21, 2013

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?

Feature |
January 21, 2013

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.

News & Politics |
January 21, 2013

2011: The Best and Worst Legislators

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.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

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.

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

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?

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Risky Business

State representative Allen Fletcher is the chairman of a House subcommittee on white-collar crime. So how did his very own company get tangled up in a white-collar-crime investigation?

Politics & Policy |
January 20, 2013

Alex Jones Is About To Explode

Does the country’s most popular conspiracy talk radio host really believe that 9/11 was an inside job? That global warming is a plot cooked up by the World Bank? That an elite cabal wants to kill most of the people on the planet (including you)? Two million listeners think so—and

News & Politics |
January 20, 2013

The Convert

After a sudden pang of conscience, former Bryan Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson became a pro-life activist and a star on the conservative talk show circuit. But is she telling the truth?

Feature |
January 20, 2013

An Isolated Incident

After his son died of a drug overdose in his fraternity house at SMU, Tom Stiles began asking questions that campus authorities preferred not to answer. Two years later, he is still learning the truth about what happened—and why.

Politics & Policy |
February 1, 2012

The Swan Song of Ron

This year’s Republican primary will most likely be Ron Paul’s final run for office. And to the surprise of a political establishment that long ago wrote him off, he’s going out on a high note.

Feature |
December 1, 2011

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?

Politics & Policy |
May 30, 2011

Could It Get Worse?

After last night’s dramatic play by Senator Davis, the calculation this morning seems to be: Will the Dems fare better or worse in a special? There is still time to undo the maneuver, if six Democrats join the Rs in a 4/5 vote to suspend the rules today. Perry’s spokesperson

Politics & Policy |
May 26, 2011

Patrick vs. Dewhurst for U.S. Senate?

Patrick was genuinely angry when he blamed Lt. Gov. Dewhurst for sinking his anti-groping bill Tuesday night. But his decision to stand by that accusation in the cold light of day Wednesday afternoon was much more interesting, as was his choice of words. "Someone who will not stand up

Politics & Policy |
May 17, 2011

Ghost Rider

As the Morning News's Bob Garrett reported this morning, the question of funny money came up at last night's first public hearing of the budget conference committee. The budget only balances if billions of dollars worth of hoped-for Medicaid savings materialize, and Sylvester Turner questioned LBB officials on how

Politics & Policy |
May 6, 2011

The Donkey is Still Kicking

Dewhurst wanted to bring up SB 22, the school finance bill, this afternoon, but couldn't get the two Democratic votes he needed to suspend the two-thirds rule, even after a thirty minute huddle in the middle of the floor before the end of today's session. Finance chair Ogden has identified

Politics & Policy |
May 4, 2011

A Name Problem

Senator Deuell stopped by the press table yesterday in the ominous quiet before the budget debate storm began, and told us a story about Archie Bunker. Sally Struthers (or maybe it was Meathead) walks into the kitchen and asks Edith what she is cooking. “Yankee pot roast,” she says. Whereupon

Politics & Policy |
May 3, 2011

Happy House Bill Day!

A rumor is floating around the Senate that Republicans might try an end around on the two-thirds rule to pass the budget. Under the Senate rules, Wednesdays are “House bill days” in which House bills already on the calendar may be brought up for consideration without suspending the regular order

Politics & Policy |
April 30, 2011

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,

Politics & Policy |
April 26, 2011

Swingers in the Senate

Traditionally, swing votes are found in the middle of the political spectrum, but this session’s Anthony Kennedy in the state Senate may come from the far right. While all eyes have been on Royce West and Chuy Hinojosa, the two Democrats considered most likely to vote with the Republican caucus

Politics & Policy |
April 7, 2011

Somebody Call a Plumber

It has been three weeks since the creation of Senator Duncan’s Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters, the panel charged with finding around $5 billion in non-tax revenue to cover the funding the Senate Finance Committee intends to restore to public education and health and human services, among other items. Today we

Politics & Policy |
April 4, 2011

Video interview: Senator Dan Patrick

We spoke with Houston Senator Dan Patrick, the chair of the legislature’s Tea Party Caucus, about whether the state has a structural deficit, his opposition to using the Rainy Day Fund for the next biennium, and his vote to restore funding to public education.

Politics & Policy |
March 31, 2011

Sneak Attack on Public Integrity Unit?

Buried in the four-inch stack of amendments to the house budget bill is a subtly crafted ambush on the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s office. This is the outfit that investigates corruption cases involving public officials, the most famous of which in recent memory was Ronnie