Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance Resigning

Chancellor Kent Hance intends to announce on Friday that he will retire in the summer of 2014, sources at the Texas Tech University System confirmed late Thursday. 

The system's third chancellor, Hance has served in the position since Dec 1, 2006.

Prior to entering higher education administration, Hance had a storied career in Texas politics, which included stints in the Texas Senate, Congress and the Texas Railroad Commission, as well as unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Senate and for governor. He has the distinction of being the only person to defeat President George W. Bush in an election. Immediately before taking his current and soon-to-be-former gig, he was a partner at Austin-based law firm Hance Scarborough.

At the system — which includes Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, Angelo State University in San Angelo and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso — Hance set a goal of raising $1 billion for its capital campaign, and it surpassed that mark earlier this year.

“Raising $1 billion is a significant achievement, even in a good economy," he said in a statement in February, "and has put us into an elite group of higher education institutions.”

Hance also weathered a lengthy media firestorm and ensuing legal battle following the termination of popular Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach in 2009 over allegations regarding his treatment of player Adam James, the son of former ESPN college football analyst and former U.S. Senate candidate Craig James.

Hance is one of several university chancellors in Texas, past and present, who came to his post by way of politics, and speculation about who might replace him initially focused on state Sen. Robert Duncan and U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, both Republicans of Lubbock. A call to Duncan's office was not returned, and a spokesman for Neugebauer said he was focused on serving his district.

Dewhurst Urges Obama to Pay Texas for Jailed Immigrants

Updated, Oct. 22, 2013, 1:45 p.m.: 

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, in a pitched re-election battle with three GOP primary opponents, on Tuesday sent a letter to President Obama expressing his disappointment in the federal government's inability to secure the border and requesting millions to repay county jails for housing undocumented immigrants.

"Nearly 90% of Texas counties are affected by this unnecessary burden," he wrote. "This largely unfunded mandate cannot continue unchecked."

Dewhurst said the money spent jailing undocumented immigrants who have been charged with crimes could be better spent on increased law enforcement efforts, adding that he looked forward to a response in the form of "prompt payment." 

Original story:

Texas county jails spent more than $156.6 million housing more than 131,000 undocumented immigrants with federal detainers between October 2011 and September 2013, according to state jail commission data.

“Those are staggering numbers,” said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who authored the 2011 bill that required jails to begin tracking data about the cost of jailing undocumented immigrants.

Under Williams’ legislation, Senate Bill 1698, the counties must report to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards each month how many undocumented immigrants with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers are in their facilities. ICE files detainers on undocumented immigrants who are subject to deportation when their sentences are completed. The law also requires jail officials to estimate the costs of housing those immigrants who face deportation. The goal was to establish the cost of jailing undocumented immigrants and to pressure the federal government to reimburse local communities, just as the feds already pay state prisons.

“The federal government has got to get a grip on controlling our borders,” Williams said in an emailed statement.

Of the 245 jails statewide, Harris County reported by far the largest number of undocumented immigrants and the highest cost. The jail, one of the largest in the nation, housed more than 30,000 undocumented immigrants at a cost of more than $49.6 million.

Alan Bernstein, a spokesman for the Harris County sheriff’s office, said calculating the cost is not as straightforward as it might seem. The federal government, he said, already pays a portion of the cost to house certain felony offenders who are undocumented immigrants. And, he pointed out, the inmates would be in jail even if there weren’t a detainer from ICE, because they were charged with crimes. 

“Immigration is a federal issue, and if the federal government fails to take care of that piece of business, then it’s financially on the hook for it.” he said.

Dallas County spent more than $22 million housing more than 12,000 undocumented immigrants, and Travis County spent more than $15 million on 11,000 undocumented immigrants, according to the reports. Among the 20 counties that reported the highest costs, 17 reported spending $1 million or more.

Chuck DeVore, vice president for policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation and a former California assemblyman, said the issue of reimbursement for incarcerating undocumented immigrants is thorny. Congress already pays a portion of the cost for housing undocumented immigrants in state lockups. 

But he said it is useful to gather the data about the burden local governments are now shouldering.

“It will likely put additional pressure on federal representatives to increase reimbursement of the costs to the state of Texas, so that’s a good thing,” DeVore said.

On Dental Claims, State's Bark Worse Than Its Bite

Texans discovered nearly two years ago that the state was spending more on orthodontic claims in its Medicaid program than the other 49 states combined, but recovery of millions in purportedly misspent Medicaid money has moved slowly.

After a couple judicial setbacks, the Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General has stepped up its game by bringing in the big guns at the attorney general's office and private counsel. The OIG also hired a chief dental director, Dr. Linda Altenhoff, and is making sure that multiple dental experts review cases before they’re brought to a judge. The outcome of those efforts will be apparent when an administrative judge rules on a case testing the state's evidence for withholding payments to Antoine Dental Center in Houston, which was argued in May.

Meanwhile, the accused Medicaid providers have made it clear they aren’t returning any money — or allowing the state to sully their reputations — without a fight. They’ve formed a coalition, Texas Dentists for Medicaid Reform, and filed a lawsuit against the state challenging the OIG’s hardball tactics of withholding Medicaid payments for months on end during fraud investigations with limited evidence that fraud occurred.

After WFAA-TV in Dallas reported in December 2011 that Texas spent more on braces and Medicaid orthodontic claims between 2008 and 2010 than the other 49 states combined, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report that found the Texas Medicaid and Healthcare Partnership, the company contracted by the state to process Medicaid claims, had only one dentist on staff and essentially rubber-stamped dental and orthodontia claims without reviewing whether those services were medically necessary.

Although the state OIG has ramped up Medicaid fraud investigations, identified more than $550 million in potential overpayments to orthodontic and dental providers, and withheld $10 million in payments while the state conducts fraud investigations, it has yet to hold either TMHP or the Medicaid providers that filed allegedly unnecessary claims legally accountable.

“The state has actions against both, and both [are] based on contract breach,” said Doug Wilson, the HHSC’s inspector general. The state argues that TMHP violated its contract by pre-authorizing medically unnecessary claims, and Medicaid providers violated their contracts by submitted inaccurate patient information for medically unnecessary claims. The OIG is assisting in an ongoing federal audit of TMHP, and continuing to withhold Medicaid payments to accused providers in order to coerce them into settling their alleged debt to the state.

So far, the only provider that has tested the state’s justification for withholding its payments — Harlingen Family Dentistry, a member of the coalition — has won two court battles. 

While the state alleges the provider owes $7.8 million in overpayments for medically unnecessary procedures, an administrative judge ruled in August 2012 that the state did not have enough evidence of fraud to continue withholding 40 percent of HFD’s payments and instead should reduce the payment hold to 9 percent. When the state refused to reduce the payment hold, the provider took the case to Travis County district court. Last month, that court ordered the state to pay HFD $1.25 million. The state plans to appeal. HFD has requested a final hearing in administrative court to address the allegations against it, but no date has been set for that hearing.

Jim Moriarty, a private practice attorney representing the state in at least four Medicaid fraud cases, said the state did not rise to the level of professionalism necessary for the HFD hearing but since then has significantly changed course. “The bad guys have won the last of these cases they’re going to win,” he said.

Jason Ray, an attorney representing Harlingen Family Dentistry in the district court case, said the idea that a state agency “would haphazardly take a million dollar case to hearing is ridiculous.” He added that the state has "always treated this stuff seriously. The problem that they have is they just don’t have the evidence to prove their case.”

The dentists will go head to head with the OIG in court again in January to try to strike an agency rule that allows the state to withhold Medicaid payments if a provider violates Medicaid program rules, such as failing to retain certain documents or using the wrong codes for services in patient files, even if the state does not have evidence that intentional wrongdoing or fraud occurred.

The state is both authorized — and obligated — under federal law to withhold payments to Medicaid providers if there is a credible allegation of fraud, said Wilson, and often that is evidenced by consistent violations of program rules. If the state has a credible allegation of fraud and does not withhold payments, the federal government could seek restitution from the state.

“Across the nation, holding payments is one of the only tools a state has even to compel compliance,” said Wilson. “Short of that, there is nothing a state agency has that makes payments to providers to make them cooperate.”

Ultimately, both parties say the legal battles between the state and accused Medicaid providers could drag on for years. By that time, it’s likely the state could only recover a fraction of the identified overpayments, said Wilson, because many providers will be out of money or out of business.

Newsreel: Davis Hits the Road, Cornyn Strikes Back

This week in the Texas Weekly Newsreel: Wendy Davis starts traveling the state, Rick Perry hits the road, too (for water funding), and John Cornyn wants the Tea Party to know he's right there with them.

Inside Intelligence: About Those Campaign Limits...

With the U.S. Supreme Court hearing a case about individual contribution caps during political cycles, we asked the insiders this week about that and other campaign finance restrictions.

Unanimous, they are not.

While 54 percent said there should be a limit on the aggregate amount a donor can give during a two-year election cycle, 45 percent said there should not be. The standing federal limit on contributions from any individual donor to any particular federal candidate had more proponents, with 58 percent saying that should remain in place.

The insiders — keep in mind that these are people more likely to be on the giving side of campaign finance than on the getting side — favor limits on contributions to state candidates. There are no such limits now, but 57 percent said there ought to be.

And what about donations from virtual “persons” — corporations and unions? A slight majority — 53 percent — said they should be allowed to contribute directly to political campaigns.

The insiders commented along the way and a full set of their remarks is attached. Here is a sampling:


Should federal law limit the aggregate amount that one individual can contribute to federal candidates?

• "I'm a political consultant... hell NO!"

• "Limitations will (unfortunately) now benefit the emergence of dark money groups that will form as a result of such limitations. Better to have massive contributions reported and visible than the alternative."

• "The limit on the number of federal races to which I can contribute is a violation of my constitutional right to participate in the electoral process. Soon SCOTUS will educate everyone."

• "Disclose, disclose, disclose. Make it easy to see who is being bought and by whom!"

• "Super PAC's have fostered super secrets. Lift the limit and create more transparency."

• "Many of your insiders are the very people making and benefitting from these federal and state contributions. Reader beware."


Should federal law limit campaign contributions in presidential and congressional races?

• "No limits, immediate disclosure"

• "Every time Congress makes a show of limiting campaign contributions, the money shows up somewhere else. It's like squeezing a balloon."

• "Either that, or let only billionaires and large corporations decide the outcomes of federal races."

• "Disclosure of contributions is more important, and the bottom line is to assure confidence in the electoral process. Unlimited spending by undisclosed interests undermines that confidence."

• "The system is already in place and seems to work to limit the influence of any one donor."

• "Same answer as above. Ironically, federal campaign limits require presidential and congressional candidates to spend far too much time at fundraisers talking to folks who can write a $2K check and less time to get out and talk to actual people. In Texas, our statewide candidates don't spend an inordinate amount of time at big fundraisers because they don't need to."


Should the state limit contributions to political candidates?

• "Dewhurst has shown that money alone won't win races. Limiting contributions won't equalize the field--ideas and good old fashioned campaign work does that."

• "100% conflicted here: 1. I don't like limits on contributions, but 2. I don't like $500 floors to get in the door."

• "I like Texas law, in that you can give as much as you want. Maybe as a lobbyist I should say it should be limited to save money, but hey, money is speech. Darn First Amendment..."

• "As things stand today, we have legalized bribery."

• "What an absolutely crazy idea. What we have learned from the federal system -- from several decades of watching the federal system -- is that money will flow to both sides regardless of the rules that are put in place. Remember, PAC's were the result of post-Watergate reforms and every campaign finance reform since then has been a re-action to whatever workaround emerged from the prior reform. All these reforms do is make it harder to figure out who is giving the money to candidates, which is basically all we want to know."


Should corporations and unions be allowed to contribute to political campaigns?

• "Taxation without representation?"

• "As long as contributions are disclosed and out in the open, why set a limit? If a certain politician/candidate is in the pocket of one person/corporation/union or a small group of people/corps/unions, then the voters will take that into account"

• "Most of the corporations that will give are privately held, not the publicly traded types. Exxon won't give, but a car dealer will. Plus, how does it make sense to allow a LLC to contribute when a corporation can't? Answer: it doesn't."

• "Both corporations and unions or neither."

• "No to corporations. Yes to unions representing their members but limits."

• "Yes, unless you are a tax-exempt entity. If a corporation/union doesn't have to pay taxes, then it shouldn't get to spend money in campaigns. If it wants to get involved in political campaigns, than it should submit to the tax man like the rest of us!"

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Brandon Aghamalian, Jenny Aghamalian, Victor Alcorta, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Louis Bacarisse, Charles Bailey, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Blaine Bull, David Cabrales, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Marc Campos, Thure Cannon, Snapper Carr, Janis Carter, Corbin Casteel, William Chapman, Elizabeth Christian, Elna Christopher, Chad Crow, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Denise Davis, Hector De Leon, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Holly DeShields, Richard Dyer, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, Gay Erwin, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Neftali Garcia, Dominic Giarratani, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Jack Gullahorn, Clint Hackney, Anthony Haley, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Richard Hardy, Ken Hodges, Laura Huffman, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Jason Johnson, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Lisa Kaufman, Robert Kepple, Tom Kleinworth, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, Leslie Lemon, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Phillip Martin, Matt Matthews, Dan McClung, Mike McKinney, Debra Medina, Robert Miller, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Keir Murray, Nelson Nease, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Royce Poinsett, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Bill Ratliff, Brian Rawson, Karen Reagan, Tim Reeves, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Boyd Richie, Kim Ross, Grant Ruckel, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Stan Schlueter, Bruce Scott, Robert Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Jason Stanford, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Jay Thompson, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, Ware Wendell, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Seth Winick, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Friday, Oct. 11

  • Fundraiser for Rep. Sarah Davis; Warwick Melrose Hotel, Dallas (5-7 p.m.)
  • Fundraiser for Reps. Linda Harper-BrownCindy Burkett and Myra Crownover; Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas (1-3 p.m.)

Monday, Oct. 14

  • Golf tournament/fundraiser for Rep. Cecil Bell Jr.; Walden on Lake Conroe, Montgomery (10 a.m.)

Tuesday, Oct. 15

  • Fundraiser for Sen. Wendy Davis; Rattle Inn, Austin (5-6:30 p.m.)

Guest Column: Severe Weather, Climate Change Not Linked

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who will take over as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who will take over as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, it often feels like there’s always some sort of hurricane, flood or tornado wreaking havoc in the U.S. These events can have a devastating impact on our economy and on our communities. But too often we hear politicians and the media claim these events have become more frequent and more extreme due to carbon emissions by humans.

The Obama administration and the Environmental Protection Agency want you to believe that devastating storms are caused by climate change. The president recently linked a warming climate to “more extreme droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes.” But these assertions are contradicted by scientific facts. They are just scare tactics used to justify costly new regulations.

In reality, there is little science to support any connection between climate change and more frequent or extreme storms. According to the foremost scientific body on the topic, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is now “high agreement” among leading experts that long-term trends in weather disasters are not caused by human-made climate change.

Nor have hurricanes increased in the U.S. in frequency, intensity or normalized damage since at least 1900. And the U.S. currently has gone seven years without a Category 3 or stronger hurricane making landfall. This is the longest streak ever recorded.

Government data also indicates no association between climate change and tornado activity. Whether measured by the number of strong tornadoes, tornado-related fatalities or economic losses associated with tornadoes, the latter half of the 20th century shows no climate-related trend.

The data on droughts paints a similar picture. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that “climate change was not a significant part” of the recent drought in Texas. And the IPCC found that "in some regions droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter, for example, central North America.” IPCC’s latest report also states there is “low confidence” in any climate-related trends involving flood magnitude or frequency.

So if science doesn’t support a link between extreme weather events and climate change, why do politicians and so many in the media keep making exaggerated claims?

To drum up support for costly, unnecessary regulations and subsidies, activists stretch the truth. They want people to believe that strict new policies and regulations can decrease the intensity of hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and floods. But that’s a scare tactic that should be dismissed.

We need to look at the science and be honest about the uncertainties associated with climate change. Contrary to even the most sophisticated climate models, climate change has been far less severe than predicted. Nearly every major temperature record shows that global temperatures have held steady for the last 15 years.

Climate change is due to a combination of factors, including natural cycles, solar activity and human actions. And scientists disagree about how much each of these factors contributes to the overall climate change.

We are fortunate to have a beautiful planet, and as a global community, we should promote policies that protect our environment. But we must set aside science fiction and focus on the facts.

A better approach to address climate change is to place a higher priority on fundamental research that will enable new energy technologies to become more cost effective. In order to impact global emissions, we must shift from costly subsidies and regulations to research and technological solutions that will be used not only here but around the world. In other words, let’s set aside the fiction and focus on a real solution.

Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, represents Congressional District 21 in the U.S. House and is chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Guest Column: Time to Act — Climate Science is Clear

There's no rule that the chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology has to be a scientist. It's embarrassing, though, that U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, hasn't even bothered to learn the basic science of climate disruption. It shouldn't be hard. He could start in his own district, at the University of Texas at Austin. If that's not good enough, then how about the entire faculty of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University, which has endorsed the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? Any of these scientists could explain how human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, has radically changed our atmosphere.

In fact, 97 percent of the world's climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activity. The world cannot afford to wait any longer for climate action, especially when we already have commonsense climate solutions that will benefit our economy, health and future.

Fortunately, most Texans get it, even if some of our leaders don't. A recent statewide survey of Texans conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change found that 70 percent believe climate change is happening, and a solid majority believes that we should already be doing something about it.

The past three years of drought in Texas have shown what's at stake. Scientists are telling us that this will become the new normal unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Unless we act now, our state, our water and the planet will be changed in ways that will damage our very way of life.

Fossil fuel industries and the politicians they bankroll have a stake in confusing people and creating the appearance of scientific doubt where there is none. Try as they might, though, they are doomed to fail, because clever politics and backroom deals cannot reverse the realities of science.

Fortunately, Texans are smart and pragmatic. We know that fossil fuel industries like coal will do and say anything to push their products and protect their profits. What's more, all we need to do is look around us to see what clean energy really looks like.

If Texas were a country, it would be the sixth-largest generator of wind power in the world. With 10,900 megawatts installed, we already get 10 percent of our electricity from wind, and that's expected to nearly double to 18,000 megawatts by 2018.

Solar is just beginning to take off in our state, but CPS Energy and Austin Energy have already installed large-scale solar. Texas could do even more solar by simply adopting a statewide policy on net metering that would allow homeowners who put solar on their rooftops to get paid for all of the energy they generate and contribute to the grid.

There are also more things we could do to reduce energy waste and to improve demand response, such as lifting some cost caps on the energy-efficiency programs run by our utilities.

As a Texan, I'm proud of the progress our state has already made and will continue to make in developing clean energy and excited about the promise of new technologies and smart solutions for our future. As the mother of an 11-year-old, I'm determined to do all I can to help prevent the worst effects of climate disruption. Pretending there's no problem is not a solution — it's a shameful abdication of responsibility.

Scheleen Walker is director of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter.


The Week in the Rearview Mirror

More than 30 Texas legislators are hoping to cash in on the big Longhorn-Sooner rivalry game this weekend in Dallas, but they're not relying on bookies or their betting prowess. The annual SBC Red River Rivalry football game between the University of Texas and Oklahoma University is a fundraising hotspot for lawmakers in both parties, who can rely on plenty of deep-pocketed donors to be in Dallas for the game-day festivities.

Battleground Texas, the Democratic group trying to make the state politically competitive again, is relocating key staffers to Fort Worth as part of its increasingly energetic drive to help Sen. Wendy Davis in her race for governor. While Battleground has said repeatedly it is focused on resurrecting the moribund Texas Democratic Party over the long term, the moves highlight the extent to which those hopes rest on Davis’ run for governor in the short term.

Attorney General Greg Abbott, the GOP front-runner for governor, is getting help from the Republican National Committee to reach Hispanic voters in Texas. At a press conference in Houston, the RNC announced the launch of the Texas Hispanic Engagement Team, a statewide grassroots outreach initiative aimed at wooing Latinos. Jennifer Sevilla Korn, the RNC's deputy political director, said the party's efforts to reach Hispanics would include visits to churches and Hispanic chambers of commerce as well as phone banking in Hispanic communities.

A majority of the candidates running to replace Texas Comptroller Susan Combs say that if elected, they would do what she has said her office cannot: update a key study on the economic impact of illegal immigration. Such an analysis — which hasn’t been conducted since 2006, the year before Combs became comptroller — would serve to inform lawmakers and guide them in their policymaking when the Legislature reconvenes in 2015, said the candidates who are in favor of the new study.

University of Texas scientists who led a study of methane gas emissions say both sides of the fracking debate are misinterpreting the results. The study, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, sought simply to measure how much methane leaks from natural gas production sites immediately following the process of hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of gas drilling that has rapidly expanded statewide. But while oil and gas industry supporters have seized on the results to support their view that the technique is safe and has been overregulated, anti-fracking groups have dismissed the study as industry-funded. 

Among the many reforms in the massive education legislation that Congress passed in 2001 was a program that would provide tutoring to children from low-income families. Proponents hailed the program as an academic lifeline that would level the playing field for students trapped in underperforming schools. But after more than a decade and hundreds of millions in federal dollars spent on the initiative, it is difficult to find anyone willing to call the program — or the greater law that enacted it — an unqualified success. 

Political People and their Moves

Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, won’t be back for more. Ritter, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has been in the House since 1999. One of his pet projects — funding for project to ensure the state’s future water supply — is on next month’s battle as a constitutional amendment.

Konni Burton was endorsed by Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes; Burton is after the Republican nomination in SD-10, a spot currently held by Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Davis, who is running for governor, picked up the endorsement of San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

Wayne Christian got a nod from Republican activist David Barton of Wallbuilders. Christian is running for railroad commissioner.

Megan LaVoie moves to a public affairs post at the state’s Office of Court Administration. She was most recently general counsel and communications director to state Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock.

Gov. Rick Perry appointed:

• State District Judge Marc Brown as justice of the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston. He’s a former Harris County prosecutor.

• Rick Kennon of Round Rock to the 368th Judicial District Court in Williamson County. Kennon is a former assistant attorney general and has been in private practice for 24 years.

• Stacey Matthews as judge of the 277th Judicial District in Williamson County. She is an assistant district attorney there and held a similar post in Harris County before that.

• Elizabeth Beach of Fort Worth as judge of Tarrant County Criminal District Court No. 1. She is a felony prosecutor in the Tarrant County district attorney’s office and a former prosecutor in Dallas County.

• Tonya Baer of Austin to the Office of Public Utility Counsel, representing residential and small business owners in utility cases. She is an attorney at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and a former staffer in the governor’s office.

• Joe Colonnetta of Dallas, David Corpus of Humble and Dolores Ramirez of San Benito to the Teacher Retirement System Board of Directors. Colonnetta is a private investor. Corpus is an executive with CommunityBank of Texas. Ramirez teaches elementary school and is past state president of the Texas Classroom Teachers Association.

• Tarrant County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia and Williamson County Tax Assessor/Collector Deborah Hunt to the Texas County & District Retirement System’s board.

Coming soon to this very space as the third editor in the three-decade history of Texas Weekly: John Reynolds, who has covered state politics and government for the Quorum Report and for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. John is joining our parent, The Texas Tribune and will write the morning and evening Briefs there while also assuming the helm here. Sam Kinch Jr., the first editor (and co-founder, in 1984, with George Phenix and John Rogers), stayed at it until 1998, when Ross Ramsey took over. By that measure, John gets to run things, until... let’s see... 2028. Ramsey isn’t going anywhere, by the way — he’s just getting his Thursday nights back.

Quotes of the Week

We were known as a university of last choice. Students want bragging rights. We didn’t give them any bragging rights.

University of Houston President Renu Khator on overcoming public perception of the school when she started there

We'll see if we have a choice. Filing doesn’t close until December, but he may not have a challenger.

Toby Marie Walker, president of the Waco Tea Party, to Politico on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn

Where's a better job? What's the biggest responsibility an athletic director has today? Money. That's not a worry at Texas... It's like going to the University of Heaven.

Chuck Neinas, former acting commissioner of the Big 12, quoted by The Associated Press on whether squabbles between UT’s president and its regents will affect the search for a new athletic director

Cruz is trying to start a wave of Salem witch trials in the G.O.P. on the shutdown and Obamacare, and that fear is impacting some people’s calculations on 2016.

Republican strategist Mike Murphy, quoted in The New York Times

I keep getting people asking me to run for Texas Agriculture Commissioner! What do you think I should do? I am in need of some direction here please.

Former Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, on his Facebook page

There’s no polite way to put this — Dan Patrick is lying.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in response to a new ad from Sen. Dan Patrick claiming that he is the only candidate for lieutenant governor who opposes in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants