When I was told about the closure of this version of Lone Star Report, I jokingly replied that some past writings will finally come back to haunt me.
But preparing for a new chapter in my life also caused me to reflect on values, both the values that drive me professionally and those that inform our public life.
At the end of the legislative session, tradition dictates that each House member underlines a passage in the Bible in his or her desk. If I had to choose a verse to underline it would be 1 Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. "
Don't get me wrong – I support profits and the Free enterprise system, which made America great and helped fund a lot of enterprises like LSR. The key point in that verse isn't necessarily to condemn money per se, but rather an obsession with its accumulation.
Money is a means to an end, and that end can be virtue or vice.
I've heard a lot of talk about bringing Biblical or "Judeo-Christian" values into public life, and to me, it means more than just voting for pro-life and pro-family bills (though those are very important and laudable policy issues).
It means discharging the duties of public office with fairness and integrity, resisting the temptation to follow blindly the orders of lobbyists for major campaign contributors, when they are pushing unjust policies.
That idea isn't popular in today's political climate. We live in an era of a 24-hour news cycle and spin, where being involved in politics means being loyal to a "team" rather than a set of ideas or the public interest. It's a world where everyone on your team is always right, and everyone on the other team is always wrong and where career advancement involves "staying on message."
At The Lone Star Report, we tried to offer something different – a view of public life based on substance rather than spin. The Bible says that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," and therefore, this publication has never assumed that one party, or one faction within a party, has a monopoly on truth and virtue but rather all need forgiveness and redemption.
For example, when the builders were pushing initiatives that created a new state agency, reduced penalties for misconduct, and lowered standards for home construction, we questioned those policies, even though they were backed by many Republicans and conservative politicians.
In covering the Capitol, we focused on what before looking at who – what does this bill do, what are the main issues in this election campaign, and what are these administrative officials seeking to accomplish. Then from that, we opined on whether it was good for the state or consistent with the conservative values held by most Texans.
Finally, at the risk of sounding like an academy awards acceptance speech, some words of thanks are in order.
First, I'd like to thank all of those people who – in recent days – have contacted me to express appreciation for our work or ask about what's next for me personally. I appreciate your concern. I don't know what's next in my life, but I'm confident good things are yet to come.
Next, I greatly appreciate the conservative members of the Texas State Board of Education and their families who serve countless hours and endure unfair criticism.
They stood for high standards and real accountability – even when it was politically risky to do so. They ensured our history curriculum teaches the truth that America is a beacon of freedom and hope worldwide.
Nothing upsets me more than listening to politicians give lip-service to traditional values in their campaigns, and then trying to neuter the conservatives on the State Board of Education behind-the-scenes in Austin.
I'd like to thank those elected officials who stood up for conservative values and fiscal responsibility in higher education, even with leadership was trying to secure more spending, higher tuition, and less accountability from public universities.
I'd like to thank those elected officials who trusted and worked with me even though we differed philosophically, or I criticized them in the past.
Thank you to my two predecessors – Mike Arnold and David A. Guenthner. To those staffers who have worked for me – James A. Cooley, James A. Bernsen, Christine DeLoma Mann, Mark Lavergne, Andy Hogue, and several interns – thank you for the long hours you worked, for your friendship, and for your patience with me over the years.
Thanks too to Bud Schauerte and Peggy Venable for their help and contributing opinion columns to the publication.
I am grateful to William Murchison for his wise advice and counsel, editing skills, and for writing the lion's share of the opinion pieces in this publication.
I'd also like to thank David Hartman for his trust in me and for his support of this publication. I appreciate the freedom he gave me to ruffle a few high-ranking feathers when warranted.
Finally, thank you to our subscribers and readers who often sacrificed to help us out. I hope this publication has led to better, more informed decision-making at the Texas Capitol.
This incarnation of Lone Star Report is closing. Some have expressed an interest in continuing the work we started here and have performed for the last 15 years. I hope that comes to pass.
As I look back on my time at LSR, while I made a few mistakes, I stood for what I honestly believed was right and close this chapter of my life with a clean conscience. It's been an honor and a privilege to cover Texas state government during that time. Good-bye and God bless! O