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Texas Take: Recovery Czar Tackles Harvey Aftermath As Irma Moves In On Florida

Courtesy Houston Chronicle

Editor's note: Mike Ward, who appeared on this podcast, was a reporter for the Houston Chronicle whose reporting was called into question in August, 2018. Although the podcasts were primarily analysis of current events, in the interest of disclosure, we thought it wise to include this information.
The Houston Chronicle retracted eight reports and issued corrections in multiple others, saying they were based on fabricated information, after an outside investigation revealed 44 percent of people quoted in Ward’s stories did not appear to exist. Ward resigned earlier this year while the investigation was underway.

Just when Texans are working past the anxiety after the destruction from Harvey, a stronger storm named Irma is bearing down on Florida, while storms Jose and Katia are churning away in tropical waters with no threat to the Gulf Coast.

As cleanup efforts begin in Houston and along a 350-mile stretch of the Texas coast, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp was named the state's recovery czar by Gov. Greg Abbott to oversee the restoration of public infrastructure that sustained at least $432.9 million in damage.

That's $101.6 million in Houston alone, with the tab growing by the day.

Abbott says he expects the final damage figures from Harvey to top $150 billion and continues to be confident that Washington will make good on its promises to fund a full recovery, after the most expensive hurricane in known history.

With Gov. Abbott pushing hard to get recovery underway, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is praising the can-do spirit of storm-damaged Texans to rebuild their homes or businesses, and get back to work and their normal lives.

But lines at the gas pumps, traffic gridlock in Houston from still-flooded expressways and mountains of storm debris may delay that normalcy for some time in the hardest-hit areas, even as the the recovery seems to be moving ahead with bipartisan support.

Still, politicians are fighting over the Trump administration's decision to repeal an immigration sidestep known as DACA, and over court decisions regarding Texas' ban on sanctuary cities, redistricting, voter ID and voter rights, among other things.

Republican primary challenges for Senate and House seats include Angela Paxton, the wife of Attorney General Ken Paxton. She is running for a state Senate seat against a fellow tea party conservative Republican, Phillip Huffines, the twin brother of state Sen. Don Huffines. He has announced support from a Who's Who of conservative Republican luminaries.

In 2015, around the time Paxton's husband was indicted for alleged securities violations, she was a hit with a song she wrote and played at GOP functions: 

"I'm a pistol packin' mama and my husband sues Obama."

This is Texas. You can't make up stuff this good.

We've got the lowdown on all the political action under the Pink Dome in this week's Texas Take, a weekly insiders look at Texas politics  -- in what it means to average Texans.

From Mike Ward, the Houston Chronicle's Austin Bureau chief, and Scott Braddock, editor of the Quorum Report, comes Texas' leading online podcast about Lone Star politics -- now coming to you in collaboration with Texas Public Radio.