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Sunday News Roundup

Violence at youth detention facilities has dramatically increased in the five years since the state legislature tried to improve conditions at juvenile lockups, the Texas Tribune reports.
Photo by Jeff Heimsath for the Texas Tribune
Violence at youth detention facilities has dramatically increased in the five years since the state legislature tried to improve conditions at juvenile lockups, the Texas Tribune reports.

Forecast snow and sleet never materialized overnight, although it’s still not outside the realm of possibility today. Let’s take a look at some top news stories across Texas today, besides the sad news from last night that Whitney Houston has died.

Assaults Increase at Youth Lockups Despite Reforms

Violence is on the rise at juvenile detention facilities in Texas, despite efforts in 2007 to overhaul the system, according to the Texas Tribune. Our political reporting partners have a big story on their site today including interactive maps and graphs to show how the rate of youth-on-youth assaults has more than tripled at juvenile lockups across Texas over the past five years.

The increase in assaults comes as the average daily population at youth correctional facilities dropped by more than 50 percent.

“It’s really disappointing,” Texas Appleseed director Deborah Fowler told the Tribune. “The implementation has not been what we hoped for.”

Texas Spends $10 Million in Late Payments

It might be small in change in the context of the state budget, but it’s enough to pay the salaries and benefits of 200 teachers: The state of Texas has lost almost $10 million over the past decade to late payments.

The Austin American-Statesman leads its Sunday edition with this investigative report into state agencies and public universities. Figures from the state comptroller show some state agencies routinely pay out six-figure interest payments year after year. For example, the Statesman says, DPS shelled out more than $700,000 in late payments in 2009.

Perry Tries to Reassert Himself

It almost seems like an eternity ago that Rick Perry was pinning his hopes and dreams on shacking up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But it’s only been three weeks since the Texas governor abandoned his bid for the White House.  And in those three weeks, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells us that Perry has been trying to flex his political muscle in Texas.

Perry gave a limited number of media interviews last week, the Star-Telegram notes on its front page. But in those conversations and in public speeches, Perry “projected an assertive, forward-looking tone,” according to the newspaper, and left open the possibility of running again for governor or president.

But some of Perry’s critics say the longest-serving governor in Texas history had his stature diminished by losing so easily on such a big stage. "I think it's pretty clear that he's not as strong as ever," Rice University political scientist Mark Jones told the Star-Telegram. "He's not seen as invincible anymore."

IDEA Charter School Pushes Into San Antonio

A South Texas charter school operator – whose contract to create an in-district charter program in Austin raised so many hackles – is now aggressively moving into San Antonio, according to the San Antonio Express News.

IDEA Public Schools plans to open two San Antonio schools by August and 18 more by 2017, the Express News reports. Meanwhile, its Austin program will begin teaching kids next school year.

Someone Wins Record Powerball Windfall

Unless you bought the ticket in Rhode Island, you didn’t win the third largest Powerball jackpot of $336 million last night. That happy prize will go to a lucky contestant on the East Coast.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.