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:

Earlier this year Pastor Gonzalez Sosa was pulled over for speeding in Caldwell County. Dash-cam audio from that traffic stop indicates both drivers spoke in Spanish during the stop.

Sosa was issued a citation, but his race was recorded as white.

 


From Texas Standard:

The longest state constitution in the nation is about to get longer. Texan voters passed all seven proposed amendments to the constitution.

One amendment aims to fix a problem most all Texans are familiar with: transportation. The state's growing population might be good for the economy, but hasn't done the roadways many favors.


From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, Texas made headlines when they passed a bill that would move $1 billion of gold bullion being stored in New York to Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement upon signing the bill into law, saying that Texas would work to store the gold into a secure facility. 

In it, Abbott said the Texas Bullion Depository, the "first state-level facility of its kind in the nation,” will keep taxpayer funds from leaving the state through fees for storing gold outside our borders and increase "the security and stability of our gold reserves.”

 


From Texas Standard:

Municipal elections in presidential off-years usually don't attract too much attention. But the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is the exception to that rule.

Proposition 1 on Houston voters' ballots, HERO, derisively known as the "bathroom ordinance," is getting a lot of national attention.

 


From Texas Standard:

Back in July, Texas and Arizona were caught illegally importing a lethal injection drug compound as the product was passing through an airport in Houston. The federal Food and Drug Administration, responsible for food and drug regulation in the United States, has said in the past that importing the drug is illegal.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice told the Dallas Morning News that the department had a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration saying the state could import the drug.

 


From Texas Standard:

This week, the University Interscholastic League, which oversees athletic competitions throughout the state, asked school superintendents to approve a policy that would use a student's birth certificate or other government-issued documents to determine gender.

The UIL has a nondiscrimination policy that includes gender – but this new rule would put Texas junior and high school sports on a gender binary system.

 


From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, a three-person group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress started releasing surreptitious videos of Planned Parenthood officials from across the country – including Houston.


From Texas Standard:

Just shy of his first year in office, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush has certainly made good on one important campaign promise – giving the General Land Office (GLO) a reboot. 


From Texas Standard: Between October 30 and November 2 of this year, about 6,000 federal prisoners from across the country will be released.


From Texas Standard:

Earlier this month, a lineup in the U.S. Senate press room showed Democrats and Republicans standing together showing rare agreement over a comprehensive criminal justice bill.


From Texas Standard: 

Sometime between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, something unprecedented will happen at the nation's federal prisons: the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in U.S. history.

The first 6,000 of an expected 46,000 federal prison inmates will be released in that four day window. It's the result of a downward revision in mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, a change that's being made retroactively.

From Texas Standard:

In 2003, then President George W. Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act. The bill required federal and state lockups to implement certain procedures and standards that would address sexual abuse behind bars. Not doing so, states would run the risk of penalties, such as the loss of federal grant money.

The final rules took effect in 2012, and the Texas governor at the time, Rick Perry, refused to sign on. However in a 180-degree reversal, Gov.Greg Abbott says the state will be brought in-line with the law.


From Texas Standard:

Earlier this year, Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk disappeared.

Her office fielded questions as to her whereabouts explaining that she was just taking a summer break, and that everything was fine.

Everything wasn't fine, as the public would learn later.

As Hawk's absence continued, the DA publicly revealed she was struggling with depression. More recently, in a candid interview with D Magazine, Hawk revealed that she was experiencing suicidal thoughts and had spent two months getting treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Houston.

 


From Texas Standard:

It happened on the floor of the U.S. Senate: Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas and prospective applicant for the top job in the executive branch, asked for a recorded vote on his proposal to defund Planned Parenthood and dump the nuclear deal with Iran.

What followed was seven seconds of awkward silence, which said more than any pundit could about the relationship between one Texas senator and the rest of the U.S. Senate.

 


From Texas Standard:

Former Governor Rick Perry's bid for the presidency may have come to an end, but there's still a few chances that someone with Texas ties could occupy the White House next term.

From Texas Standard: It's been four months since the deadly biker shootout in Waco, Texas. The violence left nine people dead, 20 more wounded, and 177 bikers in jail. Now Nathan Penn, a correspondent with GQhas the untold side of the story. 


From Texas Standard:

There is an execution scheduled for Wednesday in Oklahoma – but Texas is tied to the case.

According to a court filing, the lawyer for an Oklahoma death row inmate is claiming that his client shouldn't have to use an alternative to pentobarbital, one of the chemicals in the lethal injection cocktail. The filing argues that Texas is compounding its own pentobarbital and has sold the lethal injection drug to at least one other death penalty state: Virginia.


From Texas Standard: NASA astronaut Tim Kopra will soon break a record for the number of days a Texan has been in space – five months, to be exact. He'll be visiting the International Space Station, conducting experiments in coordination with ground teams, and bringing materials up for scientists already on ISS


From Texas Standard:

One of the first things we do each morning – in the wee small hours – is check in on the top stories our colleagues are talking about here in Texas, across the country, and around the world. 


LM Otero / Associated Press

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick tells Texas Standard why there’s a need to improve positive relations between police officers and the public.

From Texas Standard:

The highly publicized shootings of Michael BrownSam Dubose and several other African-American men has shined a spotlight on how the criminal justice system interacts with men of color. But with Sandra Bland’s recent death in the Waller County Jail, some are now asking how that same justice system treats women of color.

On the cover of the largest African-American-owned paper in the City of Houston — The Houston Forward Times — the headline reads, “The New ‘Jane’ Crow: Black Women Are The Target For Mass Incarceration.” Jeffrey Boney is the author of that article, and he lays out some pretty staggering statistics on African-American women being involved with the criminal justice system:

  • 1 in 100 African American women are in prison.
  • African-American women are seven times more likely to be incarcerated than White women.

From Texas Standard:

On July 10, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant. She was taken to the Waller County Jail; three days later, she was found in her cell dead from what officials called suicide. Both the FBI and the Texas Rangers launched investigations trying to find out what happened.

Dashboard camera footage from Bland’s traffic stop was released on Tuesday.  (Note: The video was uploaded to YouTube Tuesday evening; it has since been taken down, after people pointed out errors and inconsistencies in the video, which led many to believe it had been edited. A DPS spokesman denied editing the video, and re-uploaded the footage without errors or omissions this afternoon.)

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

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