Rhonda Fanning | KERA News

Rhonda Fanning

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump said in a meeting Tuesday that he would “destroy” the career of a Texas state senator who was pushing for legislation to change current civil asset forfeiture laws in the state.

Trump was meeting with sheriffs from around the country when Rockwall County Sheriff Harold Eavenson commented that an unnamed senator was seeking to require a person to be convicted of a crime before the state could seize any of their assets.

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority countries on Jan. 27. The word came late that Friday, sparking confusion among travelers, visa holders, airlines and government officials. Questions arose over who exactly was affected and how the ban would be implemented.

But before those issues can be fully worked out, a legal battle over the executive order is adding to all the confusion. Trump’s executive order is temporarily blocked nationwide as of this past Friday, Feb. 3.

From Texas Standard:

The 10th Amendment, the Tea Party and sanctuary cities are three things that one wouldn’t imagine having much in common. But they do – perhaps now more than ever.

A few years ago conservatives pointed to the 10th Amendment, which safeguards states’ rights, as a bulwark against orders from the Obama administration.

From Texas Standard:

President Donald Trump called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States during his campaign. He falsely claimed the U.S. has no system to vet refugees seeking to enter the country. He’s also championed creating an “extreme vetting” process for any and all immigrants and visitors to the U.S. – mapping out a three-pronged approach to immigration.

From Texas Standard:

Before President Barack Obama leaves office, for the final time, the Chicago Tribune reports Obama plans to issue more executive pardons and clemency orders.

From Texas StandardTuesday Planned Parenthood heads to court for the first of three days of hearings to defend their right to stay in the Texas Medicaid program.

From Texas StandardA federal judge is ordering Pasadena, Texas to submit its voting system for federal approval – marking the first such order since the Supreme Court decision in 2013 striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act.

From Texas Standard:

In the past year, Texas has seen a surge of Cuban immigrants crossing the border, hoping to take part in what’s known as the U.S. “wet foot/dry foot” policy – worried the policy would soon disappear with the government’s normalization of ties with Cuba.

From Texas StandardIn 2012, the mayor of San Antonio, Julián Castro, won a spot at the Democratic National Convention. He gave a keynote address that would propel him into the national spotlight – in a similar way that Sen. Barack Obama's speech had some eight years before. Castro's rising profile was reaffirmed when President Obama tapped him to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2014.

From Texas Standard:

Citizens and journalists requesting Texas public records won’t have a lot of luck getting government contract information right now. Requests for information on nonprofits getting state funding also will come up short.

From Texas Standard

Federal law doesn't allow states to drug test food stamp recipients, but there is no such law for another program that gives federal grant funds to states to provide families with financial assistance and other support services. Nine states currently require either screening or drug testing for adults seeking to receive the federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Now Texas wants to join them.

From Texas Standard:

State lawmakers filed resolutions on Tuesday calling for a convention of states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

From Texas Standard:

President-elect Donald Trump has called for “extreme vetting” – his preferred wording for a policy that would essentially close U.S. borders to refugees from predominantly Muslim countries. Texas has rebranded its “bathroom bill” as the “Women’s Privacy Act” – a proposal to deny people who are transgender from using public bathrooms that fit with their gender identity. The white nationalist movement calls itself the “alt-right.” Abortion advocates say they are part of the “pro-choice” movement and anti-abortion advocates call themselves “pro-lifers.”

From Texas Standard:

We're just one day away from putting the 2016 election in the record books – so we thought we'd take a few minutes to highlight the top five Texas moments that shaped the election.

Kevin Diaz, Washington correspondent for the Houston Chronicle, says many of these top five Texas-related moments involve the state's junior senator and one-time presidential candidate, Ted Cruz.

 


From Texas Standard:

It’s the final full day of the 2016 presidential campaign, but in Tyler, Texas, it's not politics on the minds of most folks today. It is, rather, the story of ten-year-old Kayla Gomez-Orozco, the subject of a statewide Amber Alert since she went missing after a church service last Tuesday night.

Her body was found Sunday morning behind a home in Bullard, Texas. About 300 people turned out last night at Kayla's elementary school for a vigil. A family member has been arrested and is being held in the Smith County Jail on a federal Immigration Customs detainer. The suspect had been deported in 2014 but returned to Texas a short time later.

The daily newspaper there devotes its entire front page to Kayla's story and how parents are struggling to talk with their own kids about the incident. This is happening at a time when Tyler and the rest of the nation are settling in for an historic election.

Here's our last statewide editors' roundtable before the 2016 election, with editors from Tyler, El Paso and Odessa.


From Texas Standard

After reports that Child Protective Services caseworkers have let thousands of children at risk for abuse and neglect slip through the system’s cracks, a select team of police will begin to search the state for them.

From Texas Standard:

With compounding reports of Donald Trump’s alleged sexual abuse of women, it’s easy to forget his earlier outrageous claims. Case in point – the border wall.

The San Antonio Express-News spent the last month exploring just how real a border wall could be and reporter Jason Buch, who worked on the project, says wall rhetoric doesn’t often match reality.

 


From Texas Standard:

The use of lethal force by police, against people of color in particular, is deeply troubling the nation. Complicating the search for solutions is a lack of actual data. Nationwide, police haven't been keeping count of these incidents, leaving us with far more questions than answers. In fact, only two states require police to report officer-involved shooting deaths: California and Texas.

But police departments in both states have been violating the law. A new report from Texas State University has discovered hundreds of unreported lethal shootings in both states.

 


From Texas Standard:

Since the 1970s, federal law has stated that all children with disabilities are entitled to a free public education appropriate to their needs. Nationwide, the percentage of kids who receive special ed services is around 13 percent.

But in Texas, that number is substantially lower. Just 8.5 percent of all public school kids in Texas are enrolled in special ed programs – the lowest percentage in the country. That number appears to be no mere accident – instead, it’s a rather specific objective.


From Texas Standard:

The debate over campus carry across Texas has been a noisy one – and nowhere’s been noisier than the University of Texas at Austin. You've likely heard about the student protests, the counter-protests, and, of course, the sex toys.

But now a YouTube video has upped the ante on the outrage scale.


From Texas Standard:

Police shootings from around the country have often topped the news for the past year, but details about how much they happen, and who these shootings affect most, have been sparse. The Texas Tribune spent nearly a year putting together a digital project exploring the number of shootings they could independently confirm have happened between 2010 and 2015.

"Unholstered: When Texas Police Pull the Trigger" looks at officer-involved shootings in 36 of the state’s major Texas cities with over 100,000 residents. The project comes complete with data visualizations and six in-depth articles that dig into the data’s implications.


From Texas Standard:

The Texas Department of Public Safety is asking for $1 billion to fund its border operations next year. But the state comptroller has been issuing warnings about a possible need for budgetary belt tightening.

But the department says it needs the money to buy new border cameras, replace aging vehicles, buy two helicopters, four planes and, perhaps most significantly, double the number of troops at the border – upping the number of troops at the border to 500.

 


From Texas Standard:

Earlier this week, a federal judge sided with Texas' request to block a federal directive for schools to accommodate the bathroom choices of transgender students. Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was pleased – but not surprised – by the court's order, and subsequently filed suit to remove discrimination protections against health insurers.

The Human Rights Campaign, among others, blasted that move as shameful, cheap and political. Others have been far more harsh in their assessments – both of Paxton and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who says he's not sure he's ever known a transgender person.

 


From Texas Standard:

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has an idea to lower college costs across the board: get rid of what's called "tuition set-asides" for students who need financial help. Generations of Texans have benefited from the financial aid program, but Patrick calls them a hidden tax that unfairly burdens the middle class.

Yesterday, lawmakers began exploring the merits and demerits of Lt. Gov. Patrick's plan, but reporters David McSwane and Lauren McGaughy of the Dallas Morning News have crunched some numbers of their own.

 


When Sasha Von Oldershausen moved from New York City to Presidio, Texas, a few years back, her friends told her to get a gun and lock the doors. They imagined her moving to the stereotypical lawless Southwest.

But Von Oldershausen knew better – in the vast majority of the tiny Texas towns that dot the borderlands, crime rates are low, the landscape is indescribably beautiful and the sense of solitude is profound. Then ,she discovered she wasn't nearly as alone as she thought. Texas Monthly writer Sasha Von Oldershausen recounts her experience in her article "Nothing To Fear But Fear Itself."

Von Oldershausen says she experienced firsthand the capabilities of Border Patrol's surveillance methods while walking on a trail near the Rio Grande one day.

 


From Texas Standard:

Hillary Clinton gives her big speech tonight accepting the Democratic nomination at the party's convention tonight in Philadelphia.

Perhaps you caught the speech from her husband, talking about Hillary's time in south Texas.

"She met one of the nicest fellas I've ever met, the wonderful union leader Franklin Garcia," Bill Clinton said in his speech Tuesday. "He helped her register Mexican-American voters. I think some of them are still around to vote for her in 2016."

If the name Franklin Garcia sounds familiar, there's a reason for that.

 


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