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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Friday Roundup - The Trouble with Committees

If you'll recall, we said several times around here that Craddick was going to have trouble ruling due to the hustle he had to run during his race. The first sign of those troubles is starting to appear, as covered by Burka, the Statesman blog, the Chron proper. There are too many people to punish and too many people who will become problems if they aren't rewarded for selling whatever they had to in order to help Craddick. The fact that assignments were postponed 'indefinitely' could amount to nothing, but who knows. It might be a while before committees come out, but it can't be too long.

One of our current features is about school finance, and we've got several more works in that series coming up. A couple of them will be about TAKS, so now is as good a time as any to tell you about this: the Texas Education Agency's director of assessment (read: the person in charge of the TAKS test) is going to work for the company that administers the TAKS test. In observance of several rules, she can't work on issues concerning Texas for several years, but the Dallas Morning News reports that Lisa Chandler was the main contact for Pearson, her new employer and one of America's larger testing firms. I bring this up because one of the things I didn't realize about public education and standardized testing when I first started learning about government is what an enormous industry is created by standardized test requirements. If this story reminds you of a legislator leaving public office and immediately becoming a lobbyist, it should. There's nothing overtly wrong with the individual action, but the system in and of itself just seems a little weird to me sometimes.

State Representative Lois Kolkhorst is putting together an attempt to require paper trails on voting machines, and this will at least be a visible issue in the next few months. I don't see how this will stay dead forever, but the problem this time around will be the same as it has been in the past: paying for the technology to do it, either by new machines or retrofitting and reprogramming the old ones.

At the US District Court in Tyler, sordid details about corporate espionage involving H-P and Dell came out in the first stages of lawsuits and countersuits. H-P went after a former employee for shopping trade secrets and he countered with tales of H-P spying on Dell's printer operation. Oops.

Speaking of big Texas employers, this Statesman editorial makes the very reasonable argument that Texas is going to lose out on tons of research dollars, jobs, and developments because of the currently-hostile environment towards stem cell research. For all the excitement and backslapping over the $3 billion "Let's Cure Cancer" initiative bouncing around in the past week or so, it is certainly feasible that research firms will look at the opposition to stem cell research, knowing that it holds the best possible chance for actually curing cancer, and decide against bringing their projects to Texas. It is worth a read.

Chuck Hagel's recent activities on the floor of the Senate have been entirely motivated by his maverick-minded opposition to... oh wait, he's running for President. Maybe. He's even joked around a little about joining a bipartisan ticket. There was enough speculation about a Kerry / Republican ticket in 2004 that the idea has stuck around, but I'm pretty sure everyone thought it would be McCain. Hagel says he'll decide in six weeks or so.

Okay, so the other day, I mentioned that Hillary is not necessarily the frontrunner. That certainly doesn't mean she's by any means out of it, or even out of Iowa, as this screaming "LAST PLACE HILL FACES 'LAST' RITES IN IOWA" headline from the New York Post portends. Come on, Post. She's not even Catholic.

Finally, I've been trying to keep up with D Magazine's editorial blog Frontburner and it may end up giving me a nosebleed. I thought that perhaps I was looking at several weeks worth of short posts when in fact the material from a span of just a few hours. I liken it to when you pick up a weird foreign channel on the Satellite 6000, there's no audio and no subtitles, but that doesn't stop you from sitting there for an hour trying to discern why the main male character is mad at the main female character.

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