Governor on the Floor
Perry visits House and discusses State School, TYC prosecutions
By Richard Whittaker,
11:47PM, Tue. May 12, 2009
When Governor Rick Perry made an unannounced visit to the House floor Tuesday afternoon, there was an accidental revelation of who is the most powerful man in Texas. As Perry attempted an impromptu press gaggle at the back of the chamber, House Administration Chair Charlie Geren shooed the press and, inadvertently, the governor away by reminding them that interviews are not allowed on the floor.
So the loyal media waited in the back corridor for Perry to finish the round of glad-handing, arm-clasps and governor-on-legislator hugs (hey, this is bill-signing season.) When he arrived, he even had the good form to feign surprise that he'd been 'ambushed' by the press.
The governor was pretty relaxed about the budget conferees saying they won't finance his Texas Enterprise Fund ("It's a long way from the finish.") But he was less relaxed about the release of the disturbing – no, scratch that, disgusting footage of the fights amongst State School residents that staff are alleged to have orchestrated.
Perry said that, while he hadn't seen the full footage yet, he knew what was on there and supported prosecutions. "That is not acceptable behavior in any environment, but particularly in a place where you're supposed to be protecting citizens of the state, regardless of what reasons they may be there."
That lead to the thorny issue of the lack of prosecutions, after three years, over the Texas Youth Commission abuses. As he headed to the elevators, there was time to squeeze in one quick question: Does he back the TYC Sunset bill proposals to let the Travis County DA launch prosecutions?
Perry's answer was tactfully ambiguous. "I'm for moving appropriately with speed when it comes to prosecutions. I understand that we have due process, and that due process is appropriate and good. But after that, I like to see speed in prosecutions."