The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Former President George W. Bush urged the nation’s leaders to debate immigration reform with compassion and kindness. In a brief appearance at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Bush did not advocate for a specific solution. But his statements indicated he supports policies similar to those he championed during his presidency, when immigration reform was last debated in Congress.

Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced that he will strip the trustees of the El Paso Independent School District of their authority and that he is appointing a five-member board of managers to oversee the district for up to two years, including state Rep. Dee Margo, R-El Paso, who will leave office in January; TEA Monitor Judy Castleberry; El Paso's chief financial officer, Carmen Arrieta-Candelaria; and Public Service Board CEO Ed Archuleta. A fifth appointment will come from a list of suggestions provided by state Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso.

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced a major plan to consolidate its existing institutions in the Rio Grande Valley to create a new university that he referred to as the “University for the Americas in the Rio Grande Valley.” UT’s board of regents unanimously supported the idea. 

FreedomWorks and Dick Armey have split the sheets. The former U.S. House Majority Leader from Texas is leaving the Washington-based group that fashioned itself as an institutional arm of the Tea Party. Armey split with management — he didn’t detail the reasons — and several other top employees left in his wake. 

In spite of some warning signs, Comptroller Susan Combs issued a report this week saying the state’s employee and teacher pension funds are in “pretty doggone good shape.” She stopped short of joining calls for converting one or both plans from defined benefit plans to defined contribution plans that are more dependent on investment outcomes. 

A new federal courthouse opened in downtown Austin this week, closer to the partying part of town than to the Capitol and most other government buildings. It was a federal stimulus project, built for $123 million.