April 24, 2008
As you can tell, the level of thought, editing, review, and revising that goes into the manuscript that becomes each week’s Watson Wire is simply extraordinary. My guess is it rivals the effort that went into some of Jefferson’s best-known musings.
For example, I’m writing a big chunk of this Wire at a ridiculous hour of Thursday morning simply because I can’t sleep.
I’m sure I’m at my best. On Wednesday, I was at the Capitol for a six-hour hearing of the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee, of which I’m Vice Chair.
I also drank enough coffee, late enough in the day, to throw my body into some sort of chemical imbalance. An overdose of Excedrin PM didn’t create anything close to an equilibrium that would allow sleep. So I gave up, went to the computer, and started writing.
The truth is, it’s been a very fun and busy week of legislative work. The hearing Wednesday was certainly frustrating at certain points. But by and large, it was far less contentious and more cooperative than the joint hearing in February of the Transportation and Finance committees.
I’m hopeful that the Texas Department of Transportation and its leaders are going to work a lot more openly and cooperatively with legislators – without pushing an ill-advised agenda of rampant privatization – to address the significant challenges we face in creating, and paying for, a comprehensive transportation system.
And on Monday and Tuesday, I went to the Del Rio area in South Texas to look at border security issues and seek input on what should be done.
The trip was excellent. I visited with officials from the U.S. Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, local sheriffs, and federal Homeland Security folks. I also talked directly with landowners and ranchers about their issues and views of the situation.
The trip provided a fascinating insight into our state’s border strategies, including the program known as Operation Border Star. I traveled by helicopter, boat, and ATV. I saw a remarkable range of assets that law enforcement officers use every day – from state-of-the-art technology such as night-vision goggles and cameras to plain-old horseback.
There’s a lot of work going on to address the unique challenges that folks face along the border, particularly in terms of drug trafficking and other crime.
Last session, the Legislature appropriated money to assist in law enforcement efforts that would reduce criminal activity along the border. Additionally, a Homeland Security bill that became law created, among other things, better processes for dealing with emergencies, stricter penalties for those involved in human trafficking, and new Border Security Councils to help different agencies work together more effectively and efficiently.
Particularly after seeing what’s going on, I’m proud of the work Texans are doing to protect these areas and the rest of the state. I also have a deeper understanding of some of the things we should be and shouldn’t be doing along the border.