Naked City

Beyond City Limits

Proclaiming that its job was done, Gov. Rick Perry last week abolished the Governor's Task Force on Homeland Security along with several other ad hoc boards. However, Perry apparently neglected to inform his new sidekick, Lt. Gov.-elect David Dewhurst, who chaired the task force and campaigned hard on his role in defending Texas from evildoers. When Dewhurst announced after the election that he would oversee implementation of the task force's 44 recommendations, reporters were unable to confirm that Dewhurst -- or anyone else -- is the state's official homeland-security chief. Most of the tab for the task-force proposals is supposed to be funded by the feds, but the U.S. Congress has yet to appropriate homeland-security funding for states and cities, most of which are struggling with massive budget deficits. -- M.C.M.

Meanwhile, back at the mansion, Rick Perry the Unready's remarkably loose-lipped week continued as he told reporters that he and the Lege would consider new funding for border medical schools when lawmakers from El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley "support legislation that allows for these physicians to practice medicine with some protections against frivolous lawsuits." The border region is known nationally as fertile ground for trial lawyers, and malpractice insurance rates are higher there than elsewhere in the state, which Perry thinks explains the area's doctor shortage. But Perry's prescription brought naught but scorn from the lawmakers in question. "That's the most flagrant political blackmail I have heard since I have been in the Legislature," said Democratic Rep. Paul Moreno, who has represented El Paso at the Lege since 1966. -- M.C.M.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, meeting in a rare session at the UT School of Law, was scheduled on Wednesday to hand down a decision in Rosenthal v. Poe, involving a documentary film crew's effort to bring cameras into jury deliberations in a Houston capital-murder trial. (The plaintiff is Harris Co. DA Chuck Rosenthal, the defendant 228th District Judge Ted Poe, who authorized the filming.) Meanwhile, state Sen. Jon Lindsay, R-Houston -- the former Harris Co. judge -- has filed a bill that would ban cameras from all jury deliberations. -- M.C.M.

For the first time in its 93-year history, the University Interscholastic League will admit private schools. The UIL, which oversees academic, athletic, and artistic competitions between Texas public schools, decided Monday to change its rules and settle a 2-year-old lawsuit brought by Dallas Jesuit College Prep. In the process, UIL hopes, it averted having to open its doors to all private schools; the new rules would only apply to Dallas Jesuit and Houston's Strake Jesuit, both of which are too large to qualify for membership in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Other than Texas, only Maryland and Virginia have separate leagues for public and private schools. The amendment becomes effective on Aug. 1, provided the Dallas Jesuit lawsuit is settled; the schools will participate in Class 5A. -- Lee Nichols

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