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Top Morning Stories March 1, 2011

john bradley2.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Texas Tribune.
A Texas Senate Committee voted Monday in favor of keeping John Bradley as chair of the Forensic Science Commission.

Head of Controversial Science Commission Keeps Post, For Now

After a contentious hearing Monday, the Texas Senate Nominations Committee voted 4-2 to recommend approving Forensic Science Commission Chairman John Bradley's appointment.  Bradley is also Williamson County's district attorney.  He faced heated questioning yesterday, especially from Sen. Rodney Ellis D-Houston, over his handling of the high profile Cameron Todd Willingham case. 

Willingham was convicted and executed for a 1991 arson ruled fire that killed his three children.  Some say the conviction was based on faulty fire science.  The Austin American-Statesman reports later in the day Democrats began "weighing whether to start a coordinated fight over Bradley's nomination before the full Senate".

TWIA Under the Microscope

The Texas Department of Insurance has placed the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association under administrative oversight.  The Associated Press reports the Department is investigating "inappropriate, unprofessional, or unethical conduct" at TWIA.  The Association's Board held an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon to discuss the TDI's move.  TWIA is the insurer of last resort for Gulf Coast Texans.

AISD Declares Financial Exigency

After a marathon board meeting lasting into the wee hours this morning, Austin school trustees voted to declare the district in a state of financial exigency. The declaration will give Superintendent Meria Carstarphen more power to reduce AISD's projected budget deficit of $94 million. Click here for more on last night's meeting.

Grass Fire Near Mopac Monday

A brush fire broke out yesterday afternoon along Mopac between 35th and 45th Streets  .  KXAN TV reports a few vehicles were scorched in the fire but no one was hurt.  KXAN posted a few videos of the fire from drivers passing by; you can watch those here. Keep in mind a burn ban is in effect in Travis County until March 9th.