Politics & Policy

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Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Special Awards

Rookie of the YearPhil King, Republican, Weatherford. It’s increasingly difficult for a freshman to have any effect on major legislation, but King made a breakthrough: He showed a sharp understanding of the law, a respect for opponents’ arguments, and a veteran’s negotiating savvy as the GOP’s point man in dealing

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Lady Macbeth —Arlene Wohlgemuth

Republican, Burleson, 51. On the next to last night of the session, a nervous Republican staffer watches Sylvester Turner, who is trying to talk the governor’s tax-cut bill to death. If the bill goes down, so does the session. What has come over him? She turns to the person next

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

To What End?—Sylvester Turner

Democrat, Houston, 44. It should never have come to this: Sylvester Turner on the Worst list. He is too smart, too public-spirited, and too effective to end up here. But the Best and Worst lists are based on more than personal qualities; how those qualities are put to use—for good

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Daytime Drama—Florence Shapiro

Republican, Plano, 51. Seeing Florence Shapiro at work is like watching a soap opera. The heroine is attractive and articulate but so eager to step on her neighbors on her way to the top that she turns into a villain. What will that woman do next? Whom will she feud

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Head-on Collision—Rene Oliveira

Democrat, Brownsville, 44. Rene Oliveira ran the Ways and Means Committee like an accident looking for a place to happen. And he found it—on the House floor. He put himself on a collision course with Governor Bush over tax cuts, and the wreck was spectacular. Oliveira’s reputation and authority did

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

The Pariah—Drew Nixon

Republican, Carthage, 39. When Drew Nixon picks up his microphone on the Senate floor, his colleagues pay close attention—but not out of respect. They’re hoping for a little comic relief, and they’re seldom disappointed. During the debate on an important education bill, Nixon observed that the state’s school-finance system was

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Mr. Councilman—Jon Lindsay

Republican, Houston, 63. Long before Jon Lindsay came to the Senate, Houston-area legislators had an unfortunate penchant for wanting to settle local disputes—or unsettle them—in the Capitol, much to the dismay of every lawmaker from outside Harris County. Once, when former lieutenant governor Bill Hobby concluded a particularly torturous Senate

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Volunteer—Charlie Howard

Republican, Sugar Land, 57. During the fourteen sessions that we have been choosing the Best and the Worst Legislators, many a lawmaker has tried to lobby himself onto the Best list. A few have tried to lobby themselves off the Worst list. But never, before Charlie Howard came along, had

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Very Bad Wizard—Troy Fraser

Republican, Horseshoe Bay, 49. For the first two months of its 140-day session, the Texas Legislature does little but pass resolutions honoring visitors like the Kilgore Rangerettes and eat barbecue on the Capitol lawn with various chambers of commerce. There are few opportunities for a lawmaker to stand out in

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Losing at Ping-Pong—Norma Chavez

Democrat, El Paso, 39. In a word: clueless. She doesn’t know the first lesson of legislative survival: Lead, follow, or get out of the way. She can’t lead, won’t follow, and absolutely refuses to get out of the way. She set the tone for her career in 1997, her freshman

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Spin, Spin, Spin—Kevin Bailey

Democrat, Houston, 48. A lot of lawmakers would give up their cherished parking spaces to have what Kevin Bailey has going for him: fire in the belly, cleverness, a loyal following, a knack for phrasing a political point, and a booming voice to deliver it. What a waste of talent.

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Intellectual Gladiator—Steve Wolens

Democrat, Dallas, 49. If Steve Wolens were the sort of person who keeps a motivational sign on his desk—which he is not, an encouragement to action being the last thing he needs—it would read, “The difficult we do at once. The impossible takes a little longer.” Indeed, the chairman of

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

In the Club—Royce West

Democrat, Dallas, 46. The Texas Senate operates under the clubby rules of a fraternity. As far as outsiders can tell, hierarchy is determined by a member’s influence, or maybe it is the reverse. About all that is really known is who is in and who is out. Before this year,

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Heavy Lifter—David Sibley

Republican, Waco, 51. This was not supposed to be one of David Sibley’s better sessions. Long before lawmakers arrived in Austin, rumors flew that he was not a favorite of incoming lieutenant governor Rick Perry’s and might be stripped of his prestigious Economic Development Committee chairmanship. Indeed, Sibley was one

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

Captain of His Own Brinkmanship—Paul Sadler

Democrat, Henderson, 44. Obstinate, autocratic, sanctimonious, uncollegial, unforthcoming, infuriating: No, this isn’t a Ten Worst write-up—but it almost was. As the chair of the House Public Education Committee, Sadler held in his hands the fate of the pay raise for teachers and Governor Bush’s top-priority proposals for cutting school property

Politics & Policy|
June 30, 1999

The Peacekeeper—Ken Marchant

Republican, Coppell, 48. He didn’t sponsor any of the session’s most important bills, seldom engaged in floor debate, and didn’t chair a committee, yet Ken Marchant did something far more important. As the chairman of the Republican caucus in a House where Democrats held a narrow majority and partisan warfare

Politics & Policy|
May 31, 1999

A Census of Power

Twenty and a half million. That’s Texas’ projected population in 2000—an increase of more than 20 percent since 1990—and Republicans are salivating at the prospect of gaining seats in the mandatory 2001 redrawing of legislative and congressional districts. Any area that did not keep up with the state’s growth rate

Politics & Policy|
April 30, 1999

The Obsession Thing

When someone says she loves George Bush these days, she’s almost certainly talking about the man William Bennett recently christened “W.” But at least one novelist prefers the ex-president to the presidential hopeful. Next January Simon and Schuster will publish Lydia Millet’s George Bush, Dark Prince of Love, which she

Politics & Policy|
April 30, 1999

Not So Rosy

Why Bush’s tax cuts are in trouble.President-anoint George W. Bush has adopted a Rose Garden strategy as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination that justifies ducking GOP rivals and the media by saying he has to concentrate on doing his job as governor. But this game plan works only

News & Politics|
March 1, 1999

Elementary Watson

After only two years on the job, he’s gotten Austin’s environmentalists and developers to work together. That’s why Kirk Watson is our first annual Best Mayor for Business.

Politics & Policy|
March 1, 1999

Steered Wrong

WE, THE PRODUCERS OF BARNEY & FRIENDS, do have a sense of humor about how the big purple guy comes across to adults [“Bum Steer Awards,” January 1999]. However, the possibility that a person in a bogus Barney costume might harm a child is no laughing matter. That is

Politics & Policy|
February 1, 1999

No New Tax Cuts

The first obstacle in George W. Bush’s drive for president is a Republican woman—not potential GOP rival Elizabeth Dole, but a member of his own Texas team, state comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander. Some Bush insiders were peeved aplenty when Rylander slashed $700 million from prevailing estimates of how much money

Politics & Policy|
January 1, 1999

Dianne Hardy-Garcia

DIANNE HARDY-GARCIA is so earnest in conversation that you might mistake her for a political novice. Don’t. As the executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas for the past five years, the 33-year-old San Antonio native has had one of the most challenging jobs in a

Politics & Policy|
December 1, 1998

Surprised Parties

Here’s what Republicans and Democrats were talking about after the November 3 election.George W. Bush’s coattails. They were frayed at best, even though the GOP swept every statewide race. The governor got 68 percent of the vote, but the victorious Republican candidates for lieutenant governor and comptroller, Rick Perry and

Politics & Policy|
November 1, 1998

The Assassination at 35

A handsome young president, a convertible limousine, a sniper, three shots (we think), and our lives were changed forever. A special report on what is, for many, the defining event of the past fifty years.

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