Vol 33, Issue 20 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

Baylor University has fired head football Art Briles and removed Ken Starr from his post as president in the wake of an investigation into sexual assault allegations on campus. Starr will continue to serve as the university's chancellor and professor. 

Texas, joined by 10 other states, filed a lawsuit Wednesday to stop a federal directive instructing school districts to let transgender students use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, state officials announced.

In Tuesday’s runoff elections, Keven Ellis won the Republican runoff for State Board of Education over a candidate who once called Obama a gay prostitute; former state Rep. Wayne Christian won the Republican nomination for Texas railroad commissioner; Scott Walker and Mary Lou Keel won Republican nominations for two seats on the state Court of Criminal Appeals; Republican Jodey Arrington and Democrat Vincent Gonzalez won their party runoffs for seats in the U.S. Congress; state Rep. Bryan Hughes and Dawn Buckingham won Republican runoffs for seats in the Texas Senate; state Reps. Doug Miller and Wayne Smith were both defeated in Republican runoffs by Kyle Biedermann and Briscoe Cain respectively. 

A law firm working for the Republic of Turkey is accusing Houston-based Harmony Public Schools of funneling money to an organization the Turkish president has accused of trying to overthrow the government. Harmony says that's preposterous. 

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller warned the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday that “all voting laws could be in jeopardy" if Texas' voter ID law is struck down.

A former staffer for state Rep. Dawnna Dukes has claimed the Austin Democrat sought reimbursement from the state for travel payments she was not entitled to, according to the Austin American-Statesman. 

A backlash against this year’s STAAR exams escalated Monday when a group of parents sued the state in an attempt to keep schools from using 2016 test scores to rate students. 

Less than a year and a half into his term, Gov. Greg Abbott appears to be following a path traveled by his two predecessors — write a book, raise your profile and then? Abbott has denied the book is a ploy at higher office, but that has done little to curb speculation that another Texas governor is laying the groundwork for a broader political profile. 

Disclosure: Harmony Public Schools has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott made seven appointments to his Advisory Council on Cultural Affairs. Lisa Hembry of Dallas and Ali Zakaria of Sugar Land were named to terms to expire on Feb. 1, 2017. Veronica Vargas Stidvent of Austin, Juan Ayala of New Braunfels and Bryan Daniel of Georgetown were named to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2019. Abbott also announced the appointment of Ruth Ruggero Hughs of Austin and Steven Nguyen of Irving as the council’s chair and vice chair, respectively.

Abbott made nine appointments to the Texas Board of Respiratory Care. Latana T. Jackson-Woods of Cedar Hill, Shad J. Pellizzari of Cedar Park and Sonia K. Sanderson of Beaumont were named to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2017. Debra E. Patrick of Tomball, James M. “Jim” Stocks of Tyler and Joe Ann Clack of Missouri City were named to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2019. Timothy R. “Tim” Chappell of Plano, Sam Gregory “Gregg” Marshall of New Braunfels and Kandace D. “Kandi” Pool of San Angelo were named to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021. Abbott also named Clack as the board’s presiding officer.

Abbott appointed Nancy Blackwell of Spring to the Gulf Coast Waste Disposal Authority for a term to expire Aug. 31, 2017.

The Institute for Policy Innovation, the Dallas-based think tank that advocates for limited government and free markets, announced on Monday that it has added former Dallas County Republican Chairman Wade Emmert as a research fellow.

The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation announced on Wednesday that it has named David B. Jones as its new chief executive officer. He succeeds Frederick D. McClure who left after four years for a position in the provost’s office at Texas A&M University.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation announced on Monday that William H. Kuntz Jr., who’s served as the agency’s executive director for the past 16 years, plans to step down Aug. 31.

Larry McGinnis is stepping down June 30 from K&L Gates LLP where he is a member of the public policy and law group in the firm’s Austin office.

Deaths: John Lindsey, 93, one of Texas A&M University’s most prominent donors. He and his late wife Sara donated money to fund three faculty chairs and nine scholarships, and gave $3 million to the university's first comprehensive fundraising campaign. He also helped create the Texas A&M University Press, and helped convince President George H.W. Bush to build his library in College Station.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University, K&L Gates, Veronica Vargas Stidvent have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.