Democrat, Galveston, 52. If Patty Gray had done nothing more than negotiate a compromise between the optometrists and the ophthalmologists, she would have been on every legislator’s Ten Best list. Lawmakers long ago grew weary of these Hatfields and McCoys bringing their feud over the human eye to the Legislature;
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.
Democrat, Alpine, 37. Out in the wild, and in the wild and woolly House of Representatives, life is a struggle for turf. Find a piece of ground to call your own—a committee chairmanship, perhaps, or a field of expertise—and you are well on your way to power and influence. Pete
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
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,
From Harvard to Hesitation Hill, the nation’s most motivated motivational speaker is much in demand. And he’ll still see you at the top.
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
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
This much is plain: the Texas Panhandle is part of the High Plains. But what, exactly, is the Texas Panhandle? Folks have debated the issue for years. Historian Frederick Rathjen says the Panhandle is the state’s 26 northernmost counties. Others, such as author A. C. Greene, deem it rectangular,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Rob Junell—Democrat, San Angelo, 52 Bill Ratliff—Republican, Mount Pleasant, 62 From different parties but of like minds, the chairmen of the two budget-writing committees have taken state spending off the table as an issue for other lawmakers to worry about or fight over. House Appropriations chair Junell and Senate Finance
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
Democrat, Houston, 45. Too much coffee? Can’t sleep? Tossing and turning all night? Log on to the Legislature’s Web site (www.capitol.state.tx.us) and listen to an audio clip of the House Public Education Committee engaged in a discussion of school finance. It’s mind-numbing jargon: tier one, tier two, tier three, basic
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
1 small butternut squash 1 red onion, sliced in rings 1/4 inch thick 1/4 cup canned beet juice 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to tasteBake squash 45 minutes or microwave about 5 minutes. Remove seeds, thinly slice, and set aside. Marinate onion in
Butternut Squash and Onion Garnishes1 small butternut squash 1 red onion, sliced in rings 1/4 inch thick 1/4 cup canned beet juice 1 tablespoon white vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to tasteBake squash 45 minutes or microwave about 5 minutes. Remove seeds, thinly slice, and set
MUSICTownes Van ZandtA Far Cry From DeadAristaA Townes joke: what has a front cover, a back cover, and “Pancho and Lefty”? The new Townes Van Zandt album! That song, and others like “To Live’s to Fly,” “For the Sake of the Song,” and “Waitin’ ‘Round to Die” filled the various
A seven-year-old guitarist who makes his stage debut alongside blues legend Albert King is a novelty, even after he has jammed with Buddy Guy, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and Albert Collins. But what happens when the kid grows up? He becomes a seasoned veteran—more of a contender than less experienced peers
How the fight over a toxic waste dump has changed the lives of three West Texas activists.
McMemories from Star Jones.
What part did Shelley Duvall beat out Gilda Radner for?
WHEN BOB DAEMMRICH starts snapping pictures in the state capitol, lawmakers snap to attention. They know the 44-year-old photographer is after candid shots for Texas Monthly’s biennial rating of the state’s lawmakers (see “The Best and the Worst Legislators,”). Daemmrich, whose pictures frequently appear in Newsweek and Time, has
From Canyon to Corpus Christi, we celebrate a Lone Star–spangled Fourth. Plus: Brushing up on contemporary art (San Antonio); doing Lunch one last time (Austin); fighting for the crown (Fort Worth); and getting to know the man who knew too much (Houston).
Think fig: The chef at Austin’s Vespaio does, and his crispy duck is delicious.
Even in death, the former principal of El Paso’s Cathedral High is larger than life.