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KUT Weekend – February 26, 2021

State lawmakers considering how to stop last week’s power outages from happening again. Plus, some Austin apartment dwellers still have no water. And how those sad mounds of dead cactus across Central Texas may be reborn. Those stories and more in this edition of KUT Weekend!

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Texas Standard: February 26, 2021

The deregulated electric market was set up to save money for Texas consumers. So why did Texans end up paying $28 billion more? That story coming up on the Texas Standard.
A Wall Street Journal analysis shows the Texas electrical grid not only failed during the storm, but failed consumers for decades by leading to higher bills. We’ll hear what happened and why. Plus the latest on hearings by Texas lawmakers.
With a disaster declaration in Texas, what comes next? The nuts and bolts of accessing federal aid.
The University of Texas RGV in hot water for turning away eligible people seeking vaccines.
Plus the week in Texas politics and much more.

Texas Standard: February 25, 2021

After days of finger pointing and demands for accountability, hearings get underway at the Texas Capitol to get the the bottom of last weeks outages. We’ll have the latest. Also, details from the governor’s statewide address last night on what comes next as Texans demand answers in the wake of last week, and solutions to prevent such failures in the future. And what Texas can learn from Australia when it comes to massive power outages and the politics of renewable energy. Plus a federal judge puts an indefinite hold on President Biden’s attempts to freeze deportations at the border. The implications plus much today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 24, 2021

As Governor Abbott prepares for a statewide televised address on the blackouts, many wonder why they haven’t heard more from him before now. Rapid fallout from the blackout of 2021 already happening, as 5 ERCOT board members say they’ll tender their resignations. We’ll have the latest. Also more on the implications of last weeks blackout in the fight against COVID-19. And could last weeks disaster actually lead to changes in labor laws? A labor historian on what history tells us about past patterns. Plus commentator W.F. Strong rethinks his list of Texas-themed tunes, a Politifact check of Beto O’Rourke and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 23, 2021

After a death from hypothermia, a Conroe family among the many filing suit against Texas electric grid manager. But can ERCOT be sued? Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, a governmental entity cannot be sued without its consent. But ERCOT, a private non-profit corporation, claims it is protected too. What’s behind the claims and counterclaims mounting across the Lone Star State? Also, could technology embraced during the pandemic lead to and end to snow days for schools across Texas?Plus another lingering effect of the storm, the rise of so-called Buy Nothing groups. All those stories and a whole lot more coming up today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 22, 2021

Stop right there: an order from the public utility commission to put the brakes on outrageous power bills after the winter storm. As lawmakers step in to get answers to ongoing questions about who and what’s to blame for the meltdown in utilities statewide, another long term ripple effect looms: the impact to Texas’s reputation. We’ll hear more. Also hurricanes, pandemic, then a winter storm… what compounding natural disasters can do to mental health in Texas, and what to look out for, yourself. Plus with the power back on for most, many Texans still dealing with water issues. We’ll have expert advice on tap and much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Winter 2021

Texans have been suffering this week in the prolonged bitter cold, without power and without water. This Typewriter Rodeo poem is recognition of that suffering combined with the hope we continue to help each other through it.

Texas Standard: February 17, 2021

It was set up to be an electrical island independent from a national power network. Cold comfort for millions of Texans right now. With a winter storm leading to rolling blackouts leaving more than 4 million Texans in the cold, the nonprofit deigned to manage the state’s power grid finds itself getting sudden national notoriety, as angry Texans demand answers. What is ERCOT, and who’s really at the switch behind this current power crisis? As the Lone Star State anticipates a thaw, things heat up between electricity providers and lawmakers now calling for investigations. The latest on the winter storm and its many ripple effects today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 15, 2021

As the temperatures fall, along with precipitation, millions of Texans stranded or worse by winter weather. Coming up, conversations with reporters from across Texas on how Texans are weathering conditions that have brought large parts of the state to a standstill. Also, missing out on the vaccine but getting something else instead: scammed. A report from Houston. Plus a major disconnect with rural Texas: concerns that a lack of broadband is leaving some Texas towns far behind. And new efforts to reunite families separated by U.S. immigration policies. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 12, 2021

It’s freezing out there. We’ll get a look at weather conditions across the state and what’s to come. We’ll also check in on how the state is weathering extended economic challenges posed by COVID-19. We’ll hear from the state’s top budget official. And the energy industry plays a part in that economic outlook. New proposals aim to tax some polluting practices. Plus a lesson in Texas border history that you might not be familiar with. And we’ll also wrap up the week in Texas politics and more today on the Texas Standard:

Artist Tom Lea’s ‘Sarah In The Summertime’

As Valentine’s Day is approaching, I thought I’d share a romantic story about one of Texas’s greatest artists, Tom Lea.  This is a love story, expressed in one painting, titled “Sarah in the Summertime.”  I’ll tell you the story of that painting and how it came to be.

Tom Lea was a true renaissance artist in the sense that he was both a gifted painter and writer. He was a muralist and a novelist. His murals are, to this day, in public buildings in Washington, D.C., El Paso, his home town and Odessa. President George W. Bush had one of his paintings hanging in the Oval Office. Lea’s novels, “The Brave Bulls” and “The Wonderful Country” are considered Southwestern classics.  His two-volume history of the King Ranch can be found in any home with a good Texas library.

Tom met Sarah in 1938, when he was working on his celebrated “Pass of the North” mural in El Paso.  He was invited to a small dinner party where she was also a guest. Sarah was from Monticello, Illinois, and in town visiting friends. He was immediately enchanted by her and decided that evening that he wanted to marry her. Tom had the good sense not to confess to that wish right there. No. He waited until their first date two nights later to pop the question. She didn’t say “yes” until he met her parents. Several months later, they were married. It was a storybook romance that spanned 63 years.

Tom and Sarah were only apart for one extended period of time during their marriage, and that was during World War II, when he was an artist for Life Magazine, embedded with the U.S. Navy. He documented the realities of the war in drawings and paintings, the most famous of which was “The Two Thousand Yard Stare.” Naturally, Tom missed Sarah terribly every day.

Here I will let the famous novelist take over the narration. He wrote:

I had a snapshot of Sarah which I carried in my wallet during the whole war. I looked at it, homesick, all over the world. When the war was over, the first painting I began was a full-length, life-size portrait of Sarah in the same dress, the same pose, the same light as the little snapshot.

I worked a long time making a preliminary drawing in charcoal and chalk, designing the glow of light and the placement of the figure against a clearness of blue sky, the mountains like Mount Franklin, the leafy trees and green grass and summer sunlight, before I transferred the drawing to the canvas. It was a detailed and precisely measured drawing. For instance, Sarah’s height of 5 foot 6 in high heels was drawn on the canvas exactly 5 ft 6. The painting was done with devotion and without haste. First the background, then the figure, and finally her head. I remember that I worked 26 days painting the pattern of all the little flowers on the dress. … 2 years after I began work on it, longer than any other painting ever took me, I signed it framed it and gave it to Sarah. I see it everyday in our living room and I see Sarah [too]. 20 years have passed. “Sarah in the Summertime” means more to me that I could ever put on canvas.

Adair Margo, his agent and decadeslong friend, and founder of the Tom Lea Institute, told me that Tom Lea would never let that painting leave the house, not for any showing or exhibition. Only once was she able to convince him to put it in a local exhibit, but only for a few hours, and it had to be back that night.

Tom and Sarah are buried side by side in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. There’s one headstone with divided inscriptions for each. On Sarah’s side it says, from Tom, “Sarah and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side. It is the side to see the day coming. Not the side to see the day is gone. The best day is the day coming, with work to do, with eyes wide open, with the heart grateful.”

Texas Standard: February 10, 2021

The wait for a vaccine and the frustration of many over even getting on a list. We put some questions to a doctor on the state’s Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel today on the Texas Standard. So how is Texas allocating vaccines and why did the state open up phase 1B wider than the CDC recommendations? We get some answers. We’ll also explore the equity of vaccine distribution… and whether should teachers be higher on the priority list. Plus a push by Texas sports team to legalize betting. And the new voice that’s come out in hesitation. And Texas through the lens of a new PBS Nature documentary. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 9, 2021

An historic trial in the senate as the second impeachment of Donald Trump gets underway. We’ll look at the mechanics of the process and Texas’ role. Also, he was a newspaper columnist who became well known in North Texas politics and eventually- a U.S. congressman. More on the passing of Ron Wright and what comes next. And thousands of dollars for a single COVID-19 test? Lawmakers being asked to look into charges at freestanding ERs. We’ll also hear from a woman who made it her mission to deliver free fruits and veggies to communities with fewer healthy options. During this pandemic, her deliveries now more crucial than ever. All of that and a whole lot more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 4, 2021

Beto for senate, Beto for President…now Beto for governor? What may be shaping into a high profile challenge to governor Greg Abbott. Evan smith, CEO of the Texas Tribune on the possibility of an Abbott vs Beto battle for the top office in Texas. Also not all vaccine rollouts in Texas are created equal. Just ask the folks in Amarillo where there’s no online signup, and people from other states are coming to get vaccinated. We’ll have a revealing picture from the panhandle. And amid jokes about coping with the isolation of pandemic, no laughing matter for people struggling with substance use. Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: February 3, 2021

New executive orders on asylum seekers and family separation policies at the border get a lukewarm reception from advocates for change. President Biden orders an official review of the remain in Mexico policies. Some are asking why not just change the policy? Also COVID-19 and the double squeeze on nonprofits. More demand for their services, but less money to provide those services… We’ll explore. And the governor’s call for legislation to further restrict abortion access in Texas. Are republican lawmakers hoping for a fight in the high court? Those stories and so much more today on the Texas Standard:

Why Margin Walker Closed

Graham Williams, the founder of Margin Walker, discusses his journey in the Austin music scene and explains why nine months into the pandemic he decided to close Texas’s largest independent concert promoter for good.

Pause/Play: Episode 9

Music in this episode by Sailor Poon

Texas Standard: January 25, 2021

And so it begins: the Attorney General of Texas files a lawsuit against the Biden administration over immigration enforcement changes. The story today on the Texas Standard.

Coming up- new findings on pregnancy and COVID-19. We’ll talk with a Texas-based maternal-fetal medicine specialist.

Also, should funding for Texas public schools be based on attendance, or enrollment? A democratic lawmaker calls for a shift from the former to the latter.

And, though the push for racial justice has brought down statues across the U.S., a new one is going up in College Station. We’ll hear from the student leading the push to honor a founding figure at Texas A&M.

Texas Standard: January 21, 2021

The executive transition-from pardons to new executive orders President Joe Biden takes action to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy. The story today on the Texas Standard.

In all some 17 executive acts, orders, and directives in the first 24 hours of the Biden Administration. We’ll explore some of the top line changes, many of which stand to affect Texas and Texans in a big way.

Also, a top Texas expert in political rhetoric decodes the many messages of a Made-for-TV inauguration.

A sense of home: a new book explores the quest for belonging among ethnic Mexicans.

The new millennial millionaires powered by snapchat and much more.

Texas Standard: January 20, 2021

The beginning of a new chapter and a new era. With change coming to Washington, what are the implications closer to home? On this presidential inauguration day, what are the priorities for the 46th chief executive of the united states and what do they add up to for Texas? Coming up, we’ll hear from Texas experts, scholars and reporters on subjects ranging from what to expect when it comes to changes to environmental policy, immigration and asylum, the economy including the trillion dollar student loan debt crisis, dealing with the ongoing pandemic, and much more on a special edition of the Texas Standard:

Texas Standard: January 19, 2021

Sorting through legislative priorities: what legislators will pass but probably shouldn’t and what they won’t pass but probably should. The good the bad and the ugly…the good? It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood but with Mr. Rogers gone, a woman in the Texas Hill Country and her dog are filling those shoes. And speaking of the neighborhood, a new neighbor plans a move to Texas. It’s the National Rifle Association and its Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Also the ugly evolution of fascism, plus the challenges of COVID-19 continue, but Dallas is looking for a more equitable distribution of vaccines. Those stories and more today on the Texas Standard: