Beyond City Limits
The execution of Mark Robertson was stayed Tuesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after concerns were raised that his 1991 capital-murder conviction for one of three Dallas slayings was unconstitutional. (Robertson, a career criminal, was sentenced to life in prison for each of the other two murders.) Until 1991, Texas law required juries to impose mandatory death sentences without considering mitigating factors like (in Robertson's case) childhood abuse. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the practice in 1989, but Robertson's case was decided before the Lege rewrote the procedure two years later. In addition to Robertson, 20 death row inmates awaiting execution were sentenced under the old rules; 18 others have already been put to death. -- M.C.M.
The Texas Public Interest Research Group has released a scorecard on how the 78th Legislature voted on key issues concerning the environment, consumer protection, and good government. According to TexPIRG's positions on major votes -- which generally lean to the left -- 23 legislators voted in the public interest 100% of the time, while 40 scored 0%. The average ranking is a dismal 40% in the House, 38% in the Senate. Among our local delegation, scores ranged from a perfect 100% for Eddie Rodriguez, Elliott Naishtat, and Gonzalo Barrientos to a perfect 0% for Rep. Mike Krusee. Dawnna Dukes scored 80% (she was absent for one of the votes on TexPIRG's list); Patrick Rose scored 75%; Jeff Wentworth scored 29%; Todd Baxter scored 25%; and Jack Stick, Terry Keel, and Dan Gattis all scored 13%. For the complete Lege list, go to www.texpirg.org/scorecard. -- L.N.
Wanna buy a home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.? Well, actually, you can't buy the building, but you can certainly purchase the affection of its resident. To find out who is doing so, go to www.whitehouseforsale.org, the latest creation of Public Citizen and Texans for Public Justice. The site features an online database of President Bush's biggest campaign contributors, a running "contribution meter" showing his current fundraising totals, a daily blog tracking Bush fundraising activities, and info on how this "Dash for Cash" affects us normal people with shallower pockets. -- L.N.