Bourdain and Brisket

Apr 11, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Thousands upon thousands migrated to Austin during SXSW to hear some tunes, stalk some celebs, and, of course, eat some darn barbecue. One of those thousands included the no-holds-barred No Reservations host – Anthony Bourdain. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Bourdain talked about pre-made egg salad…

Let the turnout speculation begin

Apr 11, 2012 By Paul Burka

Rick Santorum’s withdrawal from the presidential race leaves the state Republican party scrambling for primary turnout. The presidential race was the main drawing card for the primary. Early polling showed Santorum running strongly with 45% of the vote. The Senate race will bring out some voters. Dewhurst has name ID,…

Michael Gerson on the GOP and ideological purity

Apr 10, 2012 By Paul Burka

From Politicalwire.com: Michael Gerson: “The GOP’s main problem is not the contraceptive issue; it is the perception that it has become too ideological on many issues. Women and independent voters have seen a party enthusiastically confirming its most damaging stereotypes. The composite Republican candidate — reflecting the party’s ideological…

A Quick Chat with Top Chef Paul Qui

Apr 9, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Paul Qui is a chef on the move. On Friday, Qui got a key to the city of Austin and celebrated Paul Qui Day. On Saturday, he was on his way to D.C. On Sunday, he was anticipating the Easter…

Conservatives continue push for winner-take-all primary

Apr 7, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Texas Eagle Forum has upped the ante for the May 29 Texas presidential primary. Five prominent conservatives have signed a TEF e-mail headlined “Texas’ role in choosing the president.” It calls for a winner-take-all Republican presidential primary, rather than awarding the state’s 155 delegates based on proportionality, as stipulated…

Bernard Rapoport passes away at 94

Apr 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

B. Rapoport was a Texas giant. Universally respected by Republicans and Democrats alike, he served his state as chairman of the University of Texas Board of Regents. For half a century, he supported the Texas Observer in its mission of bringing great public service journalism to Texans. His granddaughter, Abby,…

Santorum supporters seek winner-take-all Tx primary

Apr 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

From today’s Statesman: Trailing badly in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Rick Santorum is banking on a fast-moving effort to change the Texas primary into a winner-take-all affair, sending all 152 eligible delegates to the state’s top vote-getter. Weston Martinez, a Santorum supporter and Texas Republican…

Have You Heard of Justin Yu’s Oxheart?

Apr 5, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Despite only opening in mid-March, Oxheart is already winning hearts across Houston and breaking ones too far away to grab a bite. Justin Yu was on to something with his pop-up dinners, but he is really on to the extraordinary with his first restaurant. He explained to…

Times v. Sullivan

Apr 4, 2012 By Paul Burka

Maybe the times are a-changin’ in the Texas House if legislators are willing to challenge Michael Quinn Sullivan. Win or lose, the ethics complaints lodged against Sullivan by two committee chairs, Vicki Truitt and Jim Keffer, are a shot across the bow and an indication that Sullivan’s detractors are not…

GOP remains divided on party purity

Apr 4, 2012 By Paul Burka

I seldom devote time to reading press releases, but this one from the Dallas County Republican Assembly caught my eye. The subject of the release was endorsements in local races, but what really intrigued me was the DCRA’s self-description: The Dallas County Republican Assembly is a chapter of…

Jesse Herman of La Condesa talks new Austin Thai restaurant

Apr 4, 2012 By Layne Lynch

For five years, Jesse Herman, owner of La Condesa, has been working on the concept behind his yet-to-be-opened Thai restaurant in Austin. His modern Mexican establishment, La Condesa, has garnered culinary praise from all over Lone Star State and the nation. So what’s a guy that…

More on Perry and the e- book

Apr 3, 2012 By Paul Burka

I received a call from Catherine Frazier in the governor’s office early today (Tuesday). She was very critical of the last paragraph of the blog post about the allegations in the e- book. This is how it reads: The question that must be asked, and must be answered, is what…


Apr 3, 2012 By Paul Burka

Their names are Nathan Hecht and Don Willett, and they are the only two of the five justices on the Texas Supreme Court who (1) v0ted to to protect the private property rights of beachfront landowners instead of protecting long-established public rights of access; and (2) are up for reelection…

e- book says Perry was affected by painkillers during presidential run

Apr 2, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Chronicle’s Gary Scharrer has the story: AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry’s heavy use of painkillers to help relieve severe back pain may have kept the governor from the top of his game last fall during an aborted presidential run, according an e-book being released Tuesday. Perry campaign adviser Ray…

Duty gets key endorsement in Williamson County DA race

Apr 2, 2012 By Paul Burka

The blogger WillcoWatchdog is reporting on his Web site that the Austin Police Association has endorsed Jana Duty for DA against John Bradley. The endorsement was made on March 28. UPDATE: Bradley issued a press release Monday saying that he had received the endorsements of seven Williamson County mayors.

Obamacare and the Court

Mar 31, 2012 By Paul Burka

The outcome of the battle over healthcare before the Supreme Court was preordained. The majority was going to rule against Obama because he called them out in an earlier State of the Union Address over the Citizens United decision. Readers may recall that Alito was shown on TV, sitting in…

Romney win in WI could end GOP nomination fight

Mar 31, 2012 By Paul Burka

Romney holds a comfortable lead over Rick Santorum going into Tuesday’s primary election. Wisconsin does not have the profile of a state that is Santorum-friendly. I saw a graphic on TV on Friday showing that the percentage of  voters who are evangelicals is much smaller in Wisconsin than in Ohio,…

Pecan Pie from Pie It Forward

Mar 30, 2012 By Layne Lynch

We couldn’t resist asking Gesine to share her pecan pie recipe with us. Check out the instructions for that crunchy, gooey Texas dessert, below. Pecan Pie from Pie it Forward ⅛ batch Quick Puff Pastry (page 22 of Pie It Forward) 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups light brown…

D.C. Court sets Tx voter ID trial for July 9-13

Mar 27, 2012 By Paul Burka

From Michael Li’s “Texas Redistricting” Web site, earlier today: The D.C. district court has set trial in Texas’ voter ID suit for July 9-13. That’s nearly three weeks earlier than requested by the Justice Department and intervenors. However, the court also directed that issues related to the constitutionality of…

When Rick Perry became a movement conservative

Mar 27, 2012 By Paul Burka

This was the topic of a breakfast discussion yesterday, in which I participated. One of our group, a former legislator who served with Perry in the House, said it happened it 2002. Kay Bailey Hutchison was giving indications that she planned to run for governor against Perry, who had inherited…

Young Conservatives give Combs “Hero of the Taxpayer” award

Mar 27, 2012 By Paul Burka

“Comptroller Combs has made it her personal mission to increase transparency in the finances of the Texas government,” said Jeff Morris, YCT State Chairman. “She is truly a hero to taxpayers who wish to see their money spent wisely and efficiently.” Oh, I see. Like giving Formula 1 $25 million…

Foodways Texas Is Getting Fat and Sassy

Mar 26, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Foodways Texas, which was founded in July 2010 “to preserve, promote, and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas," held its second annual symposium in Austin this past weekend. A couple of hundred participants listened to talks on the theme of “Texas Preserved”—a deliberately wide-ranging topic that covered cocktails, the drought, cattle, sugar plantations, heritage pigs, beer, shrimp boats, oysters, “trash fish,” and even mayhaw jelly. Attendees also ate, very, very well, from a brisket dinner catered by Austin ‘cue maestro John Mueller (with sides by Hoover’s Cooking) to the recreation of a Texas farm dinner circa 1840 at Boggy Creek Farm. The main course at the latter feast consisted of succulent grilled Red Wattle pigs (a heritage breed) provided by Revival Market in Houston; the chef for the occasion was Sonya Cote of Austin’s East Side Showroom and the brand new Hillside Farmacy. Here are four choice moments from the nearly two-dozen presentations at the symposium: "Two generations ago Texas housewives could buy sugar grown, refined, and packaged in Texas. The brand was Imperial, and it was downright disloyal to buy anything else. But gradually the thriving Texas sugar cane industry collapsed. The cause of its slow death was a perfect storm of cane disease, bad weather, and cheap sugar from other countries, to name just three reasons. But today, sugar cane may be making a comeback in the Rio Grande Valley. Could Texas once again become a sugar belt—or sugar bowl?" - MM Pack, food writer and culinary historian, Austin, speaking on “A Short but Not Always Sweet History of Sugar in Texas.”

Williamson County DA faces tough race

Mar 26, 2012 By Paul Burka

John Bradley, Rick Perry’s choice to block the Forensic Science Commission’s investigation into the flawed arson science that led to the conviction and subsequent execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, is in a tough Republican Primary reelection battle with county attorney Jana Duty. Bradley has also been in the news recently…

Health care debate begins today

Mar 26, 2012 By Paul Burka

I watched the morning news shows today. The most interesting comment I heard was on Morning Joe, and it was that from Obama’s perspective, losing the case is not all bad. The White House can blame nine folks in black robes. FDR mastered the strategy during the New Deal. The…

Abbott seeks to block DOJ from getting Voter ID depositions

Mar 25, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Statesman has a good story on Sunday, by Tim Eaton, about Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to prevent twelve state legislators involved in Voter ID legislation from giving depositions to officials with the Department of Justice. Abbott increasingly acts like a politician instead of a lawyer. His move this…

Statesman: national tea party group targets Straus

Mar 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

I’m probably guilty of overusing the word “crazy” these days, but sometimes there is no other word to describe what is going on in Republican circles. FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has set its sights on defeating Dewhurst and Straus, the…

Romney grabs 2-1 lead in Illinois (54%-27%)

Mar 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

UPDATE: 9:16 p.m. The margin currently stands at 50%-32% (9:16 p.m.), down slightly from  54%-27%. Some commenters posted last week, after the vote in Alabama, that much of the Republican vote in Illinois was downstate. I didn’t buy that at the time, and I don’t buy it now. Illinois is…

Combs endorses far-right House members

Mar 19, 2012 By Paul Burka

I can’t recall an occasion in which a statewide official endorsed legislators. Usually it’s the other way around. Susan Combs has endorsed Wayne Christian, David Simpson, and Bryan Hughes (who doesn’t really fit in with the extremist crowd). Who’s next? Leo Berman? You have to hand it to Combs. She…

Santorum’s Southern wins: “Major defeat” for Romney?

Mar 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

This is how the two hundred or so conservatives who met in Houston last week spun the results of the Deep South primaries in Alabama and Mississippi on Tuesday. Santorum won Alabama comfortably with 35% to 29% each for Gingrich and Romney. But if you look closely at the numbers,…

The $500 million flap

Mar 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

Texas Pays Out Big for Workers’ Unused Vacation Time.  This was the headline for the Star-Telegram story about payments to state employees for unused vacation time. Critics were quoted as saying that the payments, amounting to $500 million, are “ridiculous.” But the story is missing some crucial context.

MS, AL primaries leave GOP race as clear as mud

Mar 13, 2012 By Paul Burka

Mississippi Santorum 33% Gingrich 31.53% Romney 30.04% You could throw a blanket over the three contenders. (Paul won 9%). This is an inconclusive result. Santorum held serve, Gingrich missed an opportunity, and Romney got what he wanted, a number that began with a “3.” Alabama CNN is calling the race…

The BBQ Snob Is Hanging With the Big Dog

Mar 13, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Enjoying his fifteen minutes (hours, days, whatever) of fame, self-declared “BBQ Snob” Daniel Vaughn is in Austin today hanging out with the big dog, Anthony Bourdain, of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.”  They’re  seen here at Franklin Barbecue, along with Vaughn’s photographer Nicholas McWhirter, Vaughn’s book agent…

DOJ knocks down Voter ID

Mar 12, 2012 By Paul Burka

I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this. I’ve already said my piece. Voter ID is intentional voter suppression. Is it unconstitutional? Probably not. I admit to being uncomfortable that a state statute can be voided by the executive branch. That’s not separation of powers as I…

The Gingrich-Perry ticket

Mar 12, 2012 By Paul Burka

The conservatives might be able to organize a draft and take over the convention, but the question of electability is going to be the paramount concern. Gingrich has not been successful in the primaries. Another problem for him is that he has the worst gender gap vs. Obama of all…

Potential issues in the state women’s health program

Mar 12, 2012 By Paul Burka

Planned Parenthood has been providing an estimated 44% of the services in the women’s health care program. Now that the state is establishing its own program, the question is, Who will provide these services? There are two basic problems: (1) How does the state recruit physicians into the program? Reimbursement…

Combs endorses Santorum

Mar 11, 2012 By Paul Burka

She told the Texas Tribune that he is the only real conservative left in the race. Does this accolade stand up to scrutiny, or is she pandering to the social conservatives who have never fully embraced her? Mitt Romney criticized Santorum for voting to raise the debt ceiling on five…

Mineola superintendent challenges Bryan Hughes

Mar 11, 2012 By Paul Burka

Mary Lookadoo will face Hughes in the Republican primary. One of the underlying themes of this election cycle will be how candidates from the education community fare. This is one of a number of test cases.


Mar 10, 2012 By Paul Burka

Yesterday, I posted a story about Raul Torres’ decision to challenge Juan Hinojosa in SD-20. To quote the former president of the United States, I completely misunderestimated what was going on. Republicans have opened an offensive on a broad front against incumbent Hispanic senators. Uresti, Lucio, Hinojosa, and Zaffirini all…

Torres Senate candidacy could roil Texas politics

Mar 9, 2012 By Paul Burka

Here is one scenario: Torres defeats Hinojosa; Davis loses her Senate race; Democrats lose two seats; Republicans have 21 votes in the Senate. Another scenario: Torres’s candidacy raises Democratic enthusiasm, swells Democratic turnout, helping Abel Herrero defeat Connie Scott and turnout helps D’s in other key local races. The main…

The Big Apple

Mar 9, 2012 By Paul Burka

“Well done” for Governor Perry: Apple brings the promise of $304 million in future investment and 3,600 jobs to Austin. Do those newly arriving families know that Texas may not have the money to educate their kids?…

Margo vs. Moody

Mar 9, 2012 By Paul Burka

This is a swing district, one of the few in the state. I thought it presented the Democrats with a good opportunity to pick up a seat, but the report I get from El Paso is that Moody has been almost invisible in the community since he lost the seat…