Blue Bell’s Rocky Road

After a series of recalls, the future of Texas’s favorite ice cream is in doubt.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: May 11, 2015
Length: 12 minutes (3,050 words)

Failure Is Not an Option

As head coach for women’s track and field at the University of Texas, Bev Kearney won six NCAA championships and coached athletes who later competed at the Olympics. An affair with a student forced her to resign and her legacy is being tarnished:

“She was a magnetic, inspiring presence, and not only because of her success in Austin. In a near-fatal car accident in 2002, Kearney had been paralyzed from the waist down, and yet she now walked with two canes, like a mountain climber in a blizzard. Added to her already impressive life story—she had risen from a poor and rootless childhood, overcoming countless obstacles—the accident made her a formidable role model and a universal symbol of perseverance. ‘Failure is not an option,’ she liked to say, and she was living proof of her own maxim.

“That is, until this past spring, when Kearney was nowhere to be found at the 2013 Texas Relays. She didn’t ride onto the track on her burnt-orange scooter. No Divine Divas or Gents of Distinction were honored by her Pursuit of Dreams Foundation. At the parties held that weekend, there was no sign of the woman who had inspired so many people. That’s because right after Christmas, to the shock of many in the world of track and field and beyond, UT and Kearney had bitterly parted ways.”

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Oct 3, 2013
Length: 52 minutes (13,126 words)

Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives

A look behind the scenes of Texas’s decision last year to cut funding for family planning and wage “an all-out war on Planned Parenthood”—and what that may mean for the future of women’s health care:

“It was a given that reasonable people could differ over abortion, but most lawmakers believed that funding birth control programs was just good policy; not only did it reduce the number of abortions, but it reduced the burden on the state to care for more children.

“That changed dramatically after 2010, when Republicans won 25 seats in the House, giving them a supermajority of 101 to 49 and total control over the law-making process. (The male-female split is 118 men to 32 women.) As the Eighty-second Legislature began, a freshman class of right-wing legislators arrived in Austin, determined to cut government spending—a.k.a. ‘waste’—and push a deeply conservative social agenda. At the same time, Governor Perry was preparing to launch his presidential bid, burnishing his résumé for a national conservative audience. It wasn’t a good time to be a Democrat, but it wasn’t a great time to be a moderate Republican either. Conservative organizations turned out to be as skilled at social media as your average sixteen-year-old, using Twitter and Facebook to chronicle and broadcast every move of the supposed RINOs. A climate of fear descended on the Capitol. ‘Most people in the House think we should allow poor women to have Pap smears and prenatal care and contraception,’ an aide to a top House Republican told me. ‘But they are worried about primary opponents.’

“The result, in Texas and beyond, was a full-scale assault on the existing system of women’s health care, with a bull’s-eye on the back of Planned Parenthood, the major provider of both abortions and family planning in Texas and the country. As Representative Wayne Christian told the Texas Tribune, in May 2011, ‘Of course it’s a war on birth control, abortion, everything. That’s what family planning is supposed to be about.'”

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Jul 23, 2012
Length: 34 minutes (8,575 words)

The Not So Happy Campers

For more than seventy years, Camp Mystic has been a sparkling oasis in the Hill Country for Texas girls to escape the heat and learn archery, kayaking, etiquette, and sisterhood. But rising land values, old rivalries, and lawsuits have now hurled the camp’s owners into a four-year, multimillion-dollar family feud that is viciously pitting siblings, cousins, and even former campers against one another. What will become of this fairy-tale summer paradise?

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Jul 6, 2011
Length: 37 minutes (9,358 words)

Out and About

The social politics of being the first openly gay mayor of Texas’s largest city.

Source: Texas Monthly
Published: Mar 1, 2010
Length: 9 minutes (2,284 words)