Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dowd: GOP Vacuum May Bring Surprise Candidates

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ late-night statement announcing that he will not run for the 2012 Republican nomination for president may lead to “surprising candidates” entering the race, according to political strategist Matthew Dowd.

“There’s been some surprises of people not getting in,” Dowd said on This Week Sunday. “I think what you’re going to see in the next four or five months are some surprising candidates who are going to get in who are not mentioned right now.”

He cited Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a possible wild card, along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly denied interest in running in 2012 despite entreaties by fellow Republicans. Continue reading

Perry: Too Busy with Legislature for Presidency


AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he is too busy concentrating on the Texas Legislature to think about the presidential buzz surrounding him this week.

“I try not to be distracted by any of it,” Perry said. The governor has repeatedly said he has no plans to run for president, and his top campaign consultant is currently working for Newt Gingrich, who entered the race last week.

A “Draft Perry 2012″ Web site went live late Wednesday, sponsored by California Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda. Five other California lawmakers are listed as sponsors. Logue led a delegation of California lawmakers that visited Austin in April to see why so many businesses from the state had moved to Texas. Continue reading

In Texas Schools, A Picture’s Worth 1,000 Calories

SAN ANTONIO — Smile, Texas schoolchildren. You’re on calorie camera.

That’s the idea behind a $2 million project being unveiled Wednesday in the lunchroom of a San Antonio elementary school, where high-tech cameras installed in the cafeteria will begin photographing what foods children pile onto their trays — and later capture what they don’t finish eating.

Digital imaging analysis of the snapshots will then calculate how many calories each student scarfed down. Local health officials said the program, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in a U.S. school, and will be so precise that the technology can identify a half-eaten pear left on a lunch tray. Continue reading

Regents’ Meeting Could be Defining Moment for UT System Chancellor


Francisco Cigarroa will sketch plan for future.
Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.
University of Texas System regents have a lengthy to-do list for their meeting in Austin today and Thursday, but perhaps nothing will be watched more closely than the interplay between the regents and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

A telling moment could come Thursday when Cigarroa outlines what the agenda describes as “a framework for advancing excellence” throughout the system.

The regents are scheduled to vote on his recommendations, and in light of recent controversy about the direction of the UT System, that could amount to a referendum on Cigarroa himself.

This is the first meeting of the regents since debate erupted a few months ago regarding several higher education “breakthrough solutions” advocated by Gov. Rick Perry and Jeff Sandefer, an Austin businessman, philanthropist and Perry campaign contributor. Continue reading

Zaffirini to Chair New Higher Ed Oversight Committee – The UT Controversy Expands

By Reeve Hamilton, Texas Tribune

Former President Bush and Other Officials React to Osama Bin Laden Death

By National Journal staff

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden broke the dramatic news themselves to top Republican and Democratic congressional leaders in telephone calls in the evening before Obama’s televised announcement — prompting a wave of bipartisan celebration.

The hill Republicans did not hesitate to commend Obama, but many also reminded that the vow to bring bin Laden to justice dated to former President George Bush.

In a statement on Bin Laden’s death, former President George W. Bush said, “Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001.

I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude.

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A Chance For True Education Reform

John Oceguera and Debbie Smith

Over the past year, we brought together policy experts, business leaders, parents, teachers and principals to develop a comprehensive plan to improve Nevada’s education system. Based on those discussions, Democrats in the Legislature have introduced major education reform, taking the unique needs of Nevada’s education system and those of our state as a whole into account. Our education reform package includes reforming teacher tenure by:

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UT – Controversy, Debate, now Tussle – UT Prez, A_M Prof, TPPF

By Reeve Hamilton

At a panel hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation today, Bill Powers, the president of the University of Texas, and Robert Strawser, an accounting professor at Texas A_M University and the speaker of its faculty senate, responded to the conservative think tank’s proposed higher education reforms.

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Rick O’Donnell – I’m Happy To Talk To Anyone And Engage In Frank Discussion

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

posted by Nate Blakeslee at 1:23 PM by Paul Burka of the Texas Monthly

Last month, the Statesman’s Jason Embry reported that Governor Perry had turned to Colorado to find his newest University of Texas regent, energy executive Alex Cranberg. Now the regents have hired Rick O’Donnell, the former executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, as a special advisor. O’Donnell, who began work last week, is more of a Texan than Cranberg, having moved to Austin several years ago after an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2005. Cranberg, a major political donor in Colorado, supported O’Donnell’s campaign. O’Donnell most recently headed the Acton Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence, which is affiliated with Austin’s Acton School of Business.

O’Donnell has served as an expert for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where his work has focused on “transparency” and “productivity” in higher education. He has publicly questioned the value of research done at public universities, which he feels sometimes offers a poor return on taxpayer funds. Acton’s innovative MBA program is known for its “students as customers” model of education. Courses are taught by business professionals, not academics, and bonuses are offered for professors who receive high ratings from students. In a 2009 audio interview archived on the TPPF site, O’Donnell said he felt the same innovations would benefit public universities in Texas. A clip that will be of interest to professors at Texas’ tier one universities:

Texas should consider separating teaching and research budgets. Right now we pay a faculty member their salary, benefits, and office space, and they do a little teaching and they do a little research, and its unclear whether they’re any good at it. What do we get for that money? What Texas could do is say, ‘Look we’ll split how you get paid 50 percent for teaching and 50 percent for research, and at the end of the year we’re going to ask a simple question: How many students did you teach and did they rate you highly or not, and how much research did you produce.’ And was it good research? And then we can say, hey, did we get our money’s worth?

And one more nugget from the same interview, suggesting what university presidents can expect from O’Donnell: “We’ve supported our institutions of higher ed quite well with taxpayer funding. So frankly I don’t think there’s any reason for tuition increases. It just means the institutions haven’t wanted to do the hard work of cutting costs and getting more productive.”


I heard back from Rick O’Donnell and he had this to say about his appointment and the potential reaction from administrators and professors: “People are gonna agree and disagree with what I have written in the past. If a faculty member sees something and says, ‘I don’t know what that means,’ then I’m happy to talk to anyone and engage in frank discussion. I don’t know everything, that’s for sure. I have a lot to learn about the UT system from the leadership and faculty. I’m here to really serve the chancellor and serve the board and push their mission forward.”

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Gov. Perry: This Century is the Texas Century

Downtown Austin from across Town Lake.

Image via Wikipedia

Takes oath of office for third full term as Texas governor
Tuesday, January 18, 2011  •  Austin, Texas •  Press Release

Gov. Rick Perry today took the oath of office for his third full term as Texas’ 47th governor. In his inaugural address, the governor celebrated the priorities that have helped make Texas the best state to live, work and raise a family, and committed to strengthening those principles to ensure the Lone Star State’s future remains prosperous.

“Throughout our history, in good times and bad, Texans have endured by identifying opportunities, counting the cost and outworking their competitors in the race for success,” Gov. Perry said. “As we plant the seeds of opportunity that bloom beyond our years, we will show the world the endless possibilities of freedom and free enterprise, and make this century the Texas century.”

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