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December 8, 2017      12:27 PM

Smith: Gimme Shelter

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith finds that Trump’s first year eerily echoes the tragic 1969 Rolling Stones concert at Altamont

Watching America these days is like watching the film, Gimme Shelter. One of the most bone-chilling things about the Maysles Brothers’ controversial Rolling Stones documentary is that all through the film we know what’s coming: mayhem ending in tragedy.

The film was about the Stones’ free concert at the Altamont Speedway in California almost half a century ago, on December 6, 1969. Four people died. One was stabbed to death by a Hells Angel hired to provide security. Two were run over by a car thief who got away. Another drowned.

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By Glenn W. Smith

December 4, 2017      3:51 PM

Grusendorf: The Big Question

From the Right: Former Republican House Chair Kent Grusendorf argues that unless the 2018 election results that are radically different from current expectations, the next speaker will be selected by the Republican Caucus

As we approach the filing deadline for the 2018 election cycle, many things seem to be known. 

The Texas Senate next session will look a lot like it looks now.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick will likely prevail as the Senate’s presiding officer, and although several senate seats will be contested, the philosophical makeup of the senate will not change significantly. 

Gov. Greg Abbott almost certainly will win reelection and occupy the center office.

However, for the first time in almost a decade there is great unease regarding the nature of leadership in the Texas House of Representatives. 

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By Kent Grusendorf

November 29, 2017      4:39 PM

Wayne: Term limits for the Texas House speaker a bad idea

Longtime GOP strategist offers a counterpoint today: “I used to support term limits. Now I trust voters to elect men and women they want in their Legislature and statewide offices.”

In his recent write up to the QR, Kent Grusendorf presented an argument for a constitutional amendment to limit the Speaker’s office to one or two terms.

While I consider him a good friend, Kent's writeup creates an incomplete historic picture about the Speaker's office and those who have served in it.

The one term tradition in the Speaker's office did not end with the late Billy Wayne Clayton in 1975. The first person to serve multiple terms as Speaker of the Texas House was Marion DeKalb Taylor of Jefferson, first elected in 1859 and served second and third terms in 1863 and 1873, respectively.

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By Reb Wayne

November 28, 2017      5:01 PM

Grusendorf: Power is Transitory

From the Right: Former Public Education Chairman Kent Grusendorf brings his institutional knowledge to the question of the first real speaker’s race many observers have ever seen

As we approach the end of 2017 and look toward changes in the political landscape, an examination of political power is appropriate.  Texas will undergo a significant shift in political power –especially in the Texas House.  Such change (new leader, new rules) could impact the Texas political power structure for decades.

In 1989 then Speaker of the Texas House Gib Lewis invited key players to a retreat at Indian Hot Springs.  This was a ranch previously owned by H.L. Hunt as his get-away on the Rio Grande River.  In fact, you could walk across a downed tree, a make shift bridge, into very rural Mexico with no paved roads and a very small village.

Attending this retreat was a handful of lobbyists, half dozen Texas House members, and two US Congressmen.  The congressmen were Jim Wright and Martin Frost. Jim Wright had been Speaker of the US House of Representatives until just a few weeks before this retreat. 

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By Kent Grusendorf

November 26, 2017      10:58 AM

Hull: The Steve Mostyn I knew

Mike Hull, who represented Republicans and tort reform interests for years, says it’s time to dispel the myths about the man

Steve Mostyn, my friend, has died. He was 46.

Until recently, we were on the opposite sides of many issues, in the courthouse, at the Capitol, in election contests, and in the court of public and private opinion. He and Amber, his partner for life and his wife, were often the largest contributors to Democrat politics in Texas. I represented some of the largest contributors to Republican causes in Texas. I represented those who favored tort reform. He and his friends bitterly opposed it. He sued companies and insurance concerns. I often represented them. He supported Democratic candidates my clients often worked to defeat.

We remained cordial over the course of all those years of fighting. After I had decided my days at the Capitol had ended he and I became better friends.  Our firms partnered together to pursue mesh cases against companies selling dangerous products to the public. I think it fair to say that many of our respective friends thought we had lost our minds.

Our mesh cases came to a close not long ago. I told Steve that I wanted to write a piece about him, given my somewhat unique perspective. I wanted to correct the record about Steve.  I wanted to make a public amends by offering a more informed perspective about Steve in the same forums I had made statements about him in the past I later found out were wrong.

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By Mike Hull

November 17, 2017      4:34 PM

Smith: Abuse and Harassment in the Political World

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith says it’s time to fight sexual abuse and harassment, minute by minute in our daily lives. Politics alone won’t solve it.

Donald Trump bragged on tape about his sexual abuse of women, and still some sixty-two million Americans ignored his confession and voted for him anyway. His election devastated many in ways that go far beyond politics.

Among the alarmed, the saddened and the disgusted were American women tragically familiar with abuse. Far more have suffered harassment and abuse than we collectively admit. For them, this wasn’t just a political loss, though it was that. It was another form of abuse. Millions of Americans had ignored reports of sexual harassment and abuse, and in so doing aided and abetted that abuse.

It’s a struggle to come up with an analogy to help men understand.

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By Glenn W. Smith

November 3, 2017      5:44 PM

Smith: A National Anthem in Mime

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith notes that a moment in the 2017 World Series contained an important lesson for all of us. You don’t have to be a baseball fan to get it.

There was an inspiring American moment in the first inning of the seventh game of the 2017 World Series. Well, to this fan there were many. But, one stands out.

Before stepping to the plate for his first at bat, Astro Yuli Gurriel paused, and with a look of contrition in his eyes, tipped his helmet to Dodger pitcher Yu Darvish. Darvish then stepped to the front of the mound and nodded in recognition of Gurriel’s gesture.

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By Glenn W. Smith

November 2, 2017      4:57 PM

David Dunn: Charter Outcomes are Improving

The head of the Texas Charter Schools Association offers a rebuttal to former SBOE Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff’s argument that charter schools are failing to live up to their promises

In two instances within the last month, former State Board of Education member and lobbyist Thomas Ratliff instigated a public revival of tired charges that students at Texas charter schools are underperforming as compared to students at traditional ISDs.  

In both a press release for the Texas AFT chapter and a column that appeared in the Quorum Report, Ratliff calls for “legislative outrage for these substandard achievement numbers” in an effort to expose facts, all the while failing to disclose that he now counts the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) as one of his clients. I can share with some authority that TASB’s educational priorities are not always aligned with those of public charter schools. In full disclosure, I was also once employed by TASB in the late 1990s.

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By David Dunn

October 24, 2017      3:45 PM

Ratliff: How long do we wait?

Republican former SBOE Vice Chair Ratliff points to the state’s data on charter schools and asks “Where is the legislative outrage for these substandard achievement numbers?”

When charter schools recently were accused of sub-standard performance, the Texas Charter School Association defended their performance as “steadily improving” over time.

While charter schools have seen improvement over the 20 years since their inception, it’s clear from five years of TEA data that charter schools underperform as a whole compared to their ISD counterparts. 

This isn’t an opinion; it’s the facts.

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By Thomas Ratliff