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TxDOT “finds” new money

Mar 9, 2012 By Paul Burka

TxDoT announced today that it has “found” $2 billion for new roads in the form of “unexpected federal funds” and underbidding of some contracts. Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth, but it does make me wonder what’s going on at the agency; after…

Perry blinks on women’s health program

Mar 8, 2012 By Paul Burka

From the Morning News: Austin — Gov. Rick Perry dismissed concerns that 130,000 Texas women will lose cancer screenings and contraceptive services, saying Thursday that the Women’s Health Program — caught in a political crossfire between his administration and the federal government — will live on. The governor suggested…

Wisconsin judge enjoins Voter ID law

Mar 8, 2012 By Paul Burka

“The single most restrictive voter eligibility law in the United States.” So said Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan of the Wisconsin law, although his comment makes me wonder if the good judge has seen Texas’s law. If ours isn’t worse than Wisconsin’s, it isn’t for lack of trying.

The gender gaps – for both parties

Mar 8, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting story earlier this week about the gender gaps faced by both parties. The piece, by Gerald Seib, notes that Obama tied McCain among men in 08 but led McCain among women by 13 points. Some other comparisons, more contemporary: Obama vs. R0mney: +6…

Legler opts not to run

Mar 7, 2012 By Paul Burka

Demographic change takes its toll. Or was he pushed out in redistricting? Legler is the first, but will not be the last, to face the inevitable. If redistricting had historical markers, this transition would deserve one. District 144 was represented by Robert Talton from 1993 to 2009; Pasadena is a…

Craig Murphy on Lozano’s prospects

Mar 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

Mr. Murphy writes: Lozano is a long time contributor to the local GOP – yes GOP.  He is liked by Republicans. His opponent has had little involvement in the party and is virtually unknown.  To the extent he is known, it has something to do with a lawsuit he filed.

The governor’s office weighs in on ERS controversy

Mar 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

A few minutes ago (around 4 p.m.), I received a call from Allison Castle, a spokesperson for Governor Perry. She wished to make several points about my writing on the subject of the ERS health insurance contract. Her main point is that the governor has only one appointment on the…

Lozano’s prospects

Mar 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

I don’t think they are very good. First, the Coastal Bend region has been trending Republican in local races for some time, going back at least to 2008 and before. Second, the strongest-voting Republican county in Lozano’s  district is San Patricio.  Lozano switched parties knowing (presumably) that he already had a primary…

How redistricting changed the Republican presidential race

Mar 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

If redistricting had not caused the Texas primary to be moved, Texas Republicans would be going to the polls today to choose the party’s presidential nominee. The move from March 6 to May 29 has a major impact on the process. If the primary were held today, Rick Santorum would…

Jones’ campaign responds to Eppstein poll

Mar 5, 2012 By Paul Burka

From Patrick Isenberg with the Elizabeth Ames Jones campaign: Here is my response to Eppstein’s poll: Jeff Wentworth’s pollster released survey results today that are “half true”.  Many people in Senate District 25 do know who Jeff Wentworth is.  What they think of his siding with the Democrats’ biggest contributor…

Blue Cross girds for battle with ERS and UHC

Mar 5, 2012 By Paul Burka

From the Blue Cross release: For 32 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has been honored to administer healthcare benefits for the HealthSelect of Texas health plan of the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). BCBSTX has consistently provided Texas state employees, retirees and their families with broad…

What to do about TSU?

Mar 5, 2012 By Paul Burka

I recommend that readers take a look at Reeve Hamilton’s story about Texas Southern and its 3% graduation rate in Sunday’s Texas Tribune. TSU’s trials and tribulations over the years are an old and sad story in Texas state government, maybe the oldest and the saddest, and one which never seems to…

More on the ERS health insurance issue

Mar 2, 2012 By Paul Burka

The following is Blue Cross’s position on the cost to the state of UnitedHealthcare’s proposal compared to its own. Of course, if United wishes to provide a rebuttal, I will publish that. I remain concerned about the process that led to UnitedHealthcare’s getting the contract. Flawed analysis could cost the…

More strange dealings at ERS

Mar 2, 2012 By Paul Burka

I spoke to a knowledgeable ERS retiree today. Here is what I was told: 1. When you retire, you have one chance to choose a health plan. This retiree chose Blue Cross. Then, this summer, all retirees received a notice. It said that all retirees would be moved to Humana.

NBCLatino: Cruz in danger of finishing 3rd, missing runoff

Mar 2, 2012 By Paul Burka

This is the assessment of author Nathan L. Gonzales, who also serves as deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, a Washington-based newsletter. In a survey piece about Latino political prospects nationwide, Gonzales writes: In Texas, Republican Ted Cruz is beloved by national conservative groups such as the Club…

Vaca y Vino Is Smokin’–Literally

Mar 1, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

You may think that as a Texan, you know beef and smoking and barbecue and such. Friends, you don’t know anything about it until you’ve attended the smoking of a whole,  entire, big honking steer. At Vaca y Vino, set for Sunday, April 22, from 1 to 6,…

R’s steamroll D’s in House redistricting

Feb 29, 2012 By Paul Burka

The last three seats at issue on the House map were Margo (El Paso), Legler (Harris), and Garza (Bexar). In the interim maps, Margo is pretty safe, Legler has a chance to survive, and Garza will have to fight to survive. Pena is a goner. The Democrats got very little…

Unhappy Fourth of July

Feb 29, 2012 By Paul Burka

The delay of the primary will throw the runoff elections almost into August (July 31) — 63 days from the May 29 primary date. This seems nuts: Why do we need a nine week runoff period? (I’m going to answer my own question, with help from a commenter. The reason…

See Paul Win? See Paul Lose?

Feb 27, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Will Uchiko’s Paul Qui be the big winner on the season nine finale of Top Chef: Texas this Wednesday, February 29? Or will he be the big loser? Keep your fingers crossed for our Austin boy. If you want to really get in the mood, drop by…

ERS contract is sweet deal for Perry insiders

Feb 26, 2012 By Paul Burka

On Thursday, February 23, I wrote this brief post about the Employees Retirement System’s decision to award the health insurance contract for state employees and retirees to UnitedHealthcare: The Perry gravy train is back on the track. UnitedHealthCare is a client of … Mike Toomey. What a remarkable coincidence. I…

When did Texas politics go completely nuts?

Feb 24, 2012 By Paul Burka

The question came to mind when I read the NBC News story of the debate in the Virginia Legislature over a bill requiring ultrasound imaging. There was a huge fight over the bill, as there was in Texas. But something strange happened in Virginia. Here’s the story: State Republican…

Does Perry want Obama to win?

Feb 24, 2012 By Paul Burka

When Perry says he may run for president in 2016, the first thing that comes to mind is that the job will be not be open if Obama loses in 2012. If a Republican wins in 2012–Romney, Santorum, whoever–the job will not be available, because the Republican incumbent will presumably…

UnitedHealthCare wins giant Employees Retirement System contract

Feb 23, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Perry gravy train is back on the track. UnitedHealthCare is a client of … Mike Toomey. What a remarkable coincidence. From the release: UnitedHealthcare has been selected by the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) to be third party administrator of the HealthSelect of Texas health insurance plan.

Perry “leaning” toward running in 2014

Feb 22, 2012 By Paul Burka

That’s what he says. I’ll believe it when he files. This seems more like a sign of weakness than a sign of strength — an effort to remain relevant in the wake of his failures in the presidential race, as if he is trying to fend off potential opponents. If…

One more comment on the UT/Trib poll

Feb 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

I have made some inquiries today about internal polling in the Senate race. I am satisfied that the 38-27 spread in the UT/Trib poll considerably understates Dewhurst’s lead over Cruz.

UT/Trib poll: Dewhurst leads Cruz

Feb 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

Dewhurst 38% Cruz 27% Leppert 7% James 7% Jim Henson, co-director of the poll, writes, “David Dewhurst is roughly splitting the extremely conservative primary voters with Ted Cruz.  That’s not a sign of failure or defeat, but it is a yellow flag.” Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but it…

UT affirmative action case to be heard by Supreme Court

Feb 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

The case is brought by two white students who attended Stephen F. Austin High School in Sugarland. UT won in the district court and before a panel of the Fifth Circuit. It will be heard in the fall term of the Court, which begins on October 1. The big change…

TLR responds

Feb 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

Sherry Sylvester of Texans for Lawsuit Reform submitted a response to my recent post, “TLR bets the farm.” I have edited portions of the response that did not directly address matters that were in my original post. Some of the omitted material appears in a comment posted yesterday…

The UT/Trib poll

Feb 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

It should come as no surprise that Rick Santorum is far ahead in the Texas primary. Evangelicals are a major factor here, and Santorum carries their banner. Neither Gingrich nor Romney has done anything to get back in the race nationally, although Romney has the most resources. Intrade, the Internet…

TLR bets the farm

Feb 18, 2012 By Paul Burka

Does  TLR’s jihad against Jeff Wentworth make sense? Forget that Wentworth has voted with TLR on all but a handful of occasions. Forget that Wentworth is a well known incumbent who will have the support of the local business community, and TLR is, in this race, a bunch of carpetbaggers…

Reggie Bashur update

Feb 16, 2012 By Paul Burka

His family has asked me to post an update on his condition. Reggie will return from M.D. Anderson to Austin and will go into hospice care, most likely at his home.

Davis tweets: victory in SD 10

Feb 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

“Senate District 10 partners victorious in preserving&strengthening ’08 district. Lege damage repaired. Thanks to all who supported&believed.” [tweeted @ 1:33 p.m.] * * * * Just pointing out the obvious: The saving of Davis’s seat could take on added significance if senators choose the successor to Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst.

1996: The year the Republican Party of Texas turned hard right

Feb 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

One of the most interesting aspects of a Texas presidential primary, if there is one, will be how Mitt Romney fares. Romney is the establishment candidate. The size of the Romney vote will clarify what percentage of the state’s Republican vote is still cast by the establishment. In its early…

Perry to ABC: “Absolutely” will run for president again

Feb 15, 2012 By Paul Burka

This smacks of a desperate attempt to stay relevant. Perry’s brand is tarnished, even in Texas. In a statewide poll commissioned by the Dallas Morning News at the end of January, his job approval rating was lower than Obama’s. He finished toward the back of the pack in every…

The Ten Best New Restaurants in Texas!!!

Feb 15, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Starting in 2002, I have eaten my weight in lamb chops, roasted beets, pork belly, and micro-cilantro every year to come up with Texas Monthly’s annual list of the most innovative, exciting, and delicious new Texas restaurants. For 2012, our feature “Where to Eat Now” runs the gamut from a…

Ames Jones v. Wentworth: first shots fired

Feb 14, 2012 By Paul Burka

Lest anyone think that the race between challenger Elizabeth Ames Jones and incumbent Jeff Wentworth [a third candidate, Donna Campbell, is also in the race] is going to be a campaign characterized by mutual respect and a civil exchange of ideas, I herewith present the opening statements of the two…

LULAC’s version of its deal with Abbott

Feb 9, 2012 By Paul Burka

Note to readers: This material originally appeared on the Dos Centavos blog, the principal author of which is A. S. (Stace) Medellin. I am publishing it under the auspices of the doctrine of “creative commons distribution,” according to which others are free to copy, distribute, and transmit the…

Perry’s plans

Feb 8, 2012 By Paul Burka

Perry has been in the news this week, mainly about discussions of his future plans: Fox News ran a story on Monday, which begins: The governor and his wife, Anita Perry, in their first interview since Perry dropped out of the Republican presidential race, told Fox News that…

The Good News Is that Texas Captured Four of Seventeen Finalist Slots in Food & Wine’s People’s Pastry Chef Online Contest. The Bad News Is that Only Austin and Houston Made the Cut. What’s Up With That?

Feb 8, 2012 By Patricia Sharpe

Not bad at all: Texas captured four of seventeen finalist slots in Food & Wine’s new “People’s Best New Pastry Chef” competition.” That’s really impressive, considering that the Texans are up against chefs from Chicago and New Orleans, among other cities (we are in Central, one of three…

Tim Love’s Woodshed Is Smoking Fort Worth

Feb 7, 2012 By June Naylor

Moments after Tim Love’s late-afternoon announcement on Jan. 31 that he would open his long-awaited Fort Worth restaurant, Woodshed, that evening–a day earlier than anticipated–the indoor-outdoor smokehouse with a worldly menu of wood-fired foods was instantly swamped with hungry, thirsty patrons.

San Antonio: Deal or no deal?

Feb 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

It depends upon who you talk to. Attorney General Abbott put out a press release today that strives hard to give the impression that there is a deal: “The proposed maps minimize changes to the redistricting plan passed by the Legislature and, as the U. S. Supreme Court required, makes…

Gallup: Mississippi is “most conservative” (as if we didn’t know)

Feb 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

This is the result of a poll ranking states from most conservative to least conservative.Texas (12th) doesn’t make the list of the ten most conservative states, which are: Mississippi Idaho Alabama Wyoming Utah South Dakota Louisiana North Dakota South Carolina Arkansas Most of the states on this list are…

Notes and Quotes from the Senate debate

Feb 4, 2012 By Paul Burka

The report below is based upon notes I took during the Texas Association of Business debate. It is not a verbatim report but it is substantially faithful to the candidates’ remarks. Opening statements Cruz began by defining the race as “a clear contrast between a “timid career politician”…

Great Scott!

Feb 1, 2012 By Paul Burka

The speech by education commissioner Robert Scott to the Texas Association of School Administrators on Monday will inevitably spawn considerable speculation about Rick Perry’s future involvement in education policy issues. The remarkable thing about the speech is that Scott sounded a lot more like a policy maker than a bureaucrat.

What You Need to Know About Dining in Texas This Week

Jan 31, 2012 By pmcconnico

We’ve been waiting. We’ve been watching. We’ve been reading the tweets. We’ve been following the FB posts. Finally, a few much-buzzed-about restaurants will be opening their doors this week. (One even decided to open tonight—a day early. Surprise!) We confess that we can’t keep up with every new restaurant in…