Rick Perry chimes in on A&M student election; social media reacts

March 25, 2017
Jay Janner/American-Statesman Staff
Former Gov. Rick Perry had some thoughts about the student elections at Texas A&M. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN 2016

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and current U.S. energy secretary, questioned the legitimacy of Texas A&M’s student elections in an opinion piece published Wednesday in the Houston Chronicle. Perry wrote that his alma mater’s disqualification of former student body president candidate Robert McIntosh, who garnered the most votes but was accused of voter intimidation and failure to report a campaign expense, was too harsh. McIntosh’s disqualification led to the election of Bobby Brooks, the first openly gay student to hold the top spot in the university’s student government.

According to American-Statesman higher education reporter Ralph K.M. Haurwitz, Perry suggested “that the university would not have allowed the election to be overturned if the top vote-getter had been an openly gay student accused of a similar infraction.” A&M spokeswoman Amy Smith said Thursday: “To say that there was some greater agenda here — it’s just not accurate.”

Statesman readers on Facebook and Twitter had plenty of thoughts about the Trump Cabinet secretary questioning the legitimacy of a university student election. Here’s what people are saying. (Editor’s note: Some comments have been edited for clarity or punctuation.)

While we’re on the subject, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” actor Christopher Meloni also weighed in on Twitter: “Dear Keen Eyed Rick, once ur done roughen up the gay kid, got another questionable election maybe u can look into.”

Ill-fated plates

Vanity license plates are fun. But if the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles has anything to say about it (and it does), not too fun. According to Houston’s ABC13, about 300 license plates have been rejected in the first two months of 2017.

Here’s a list of proposed plates you won’t be seeing on a car anytime soon:

Instead of trying to creatively work the phrase “deez nuts” onto your license plate, you could consider putting your money toward a plate sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the proceeds from which go to support the state’s environmental efforts.

Or you could reapply next year.

— Amanda O’Donnell, American-Statesman staff

We’re well-read 

If you’re a book lover and you live in Austin, you’re in the right place, according to a Texas book publication.

Lone Star Literary Life ranked Austin the No. 1 “bookish destination” in Texas. The publication noted Austin’s ties to the poet O. Henry (he lived here in the 1880s) and the “Philosophers’ Rock” sculpture at the entrance of Barton Springs Pool, which represents authors J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedicheck and Walter Prescott, who used to gather at the pool for “Austin’s first literary salon.”

Another top reason why Austin’s great for readers? The city is home to the Texas Center for the Book, a nonprofit that supports promoting literature and literary programs throughout the state. Austin’s status as home to several universities is also a statement to its literary prowess: The University of Texas alone has 17 libraries, plus the Harry Ransom Center, which is home to the archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Austin is also home to 20 public library branches offering books and education to citizens, and the new Faulk Central Library is set to open this fall at the earliest.

Of course, the list also mentions the Texas Book Festival, which takes place in the fall in and around the Texas Capitol. The festival, founded by Laura Bush, recently hosted appearances by Jenna Bush Hager, Lois Lowry, Diane Guerrero, Maria Semple and more award-winning writers and authors.

And a ranking of Texas book-friendly cities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Austin’s bounty of independent bookstores like BookPeople, BookWoman, Malvern Books, Resistencia Bookstore, South Congress Books, Austin Books & Comics, MonkeyWrench Books and Brave New Books. BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore, hosts more than 300 events every year, hosting authors and visitors like Bruce SpringsteenHillary Clinton, Kenny Rogers, Wendy Davis and more.

Austin’s not the only bookish area in Texas—also ranked in the top 10 (in order) are Houston, Dallas, Abilene, the Permian Basin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Angelina and Nacogdoches counties in East Texas.

— Katey Psencik, American-Statesman Staff