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Two hurricanes kept Gov. Rick Perry busy in late 2008, calendar shows

Monday, May 04, 2009, 01:49PM CST
By Jennifer Peebles
govperryhurricanevictimsThere's nothing like a hurricane to keep you busy.

We don't claim to know whether Gov. Rick Perry read W. Gardner Selby's story in the Austin American-Statesman last May about the governor's official schedule for the first part of 2008 -- the one that seemed to suggest that the governor wasn't working as much as some other state leaders.

But whether or not he read it, the governor did have official events on his calendar on a lot more weekdays in the latter part of 2008 than in the first part, a review of Perry's schedule shows.

At least part of that reason for that may be the arrivals of hurricanes Gustav and Ike to the Texas coast. The governor had events on his calendar on the most days in September and October -- the hurricanes hit in September, and the intense recovery effort continued into the next month. Many of those events were noted on the calendar as being briefings or meetings regarding the storms.

Recalling one of Selby's key points:



Perry had state-related events to attend on fewer than 40 days of the year's first quarter, counting a parade, a coach's salute and two Washington dinners. The state's chief executive, who plans to seek another term in 2010, had no state-scheduled events on 31 weekdays.




Looking at all of 2008, Texas Watchdog found that the governor had no state-related events on about 90 weekdays, and had no state-related events on 165 total days of the year. (He did have official events on some weekend days, such as the Peace of Mind 5K run on Saturday, June 14.)

Perry had no state events on just 3 weekdays in September. He had no state events on 4 weekdays in October. The month when he had the least events on his schedule was January, when we counted no events on a dozen weekdays.

What does the governor do at these events? Some are meetings, some are briefings. Some events are photo ops -- a couple of days were almost totally given over to back-to-back photo ops, such as Wednesday, June 18, on which the governor met with kids on state champion teams in everything from one-act play to wrestling. (He also did a videotaping that afternoon in recognition of Brazoria County Day.)

But the governor also met with state legislators, such as having lunch on June 27 at Corpus Christi's Water Street Seafood Co. with House members Abel Herrero, Juan Garcia and Solomon Ortiz Jr. He met with business leaders, such as three chief officials from Austin-based managed hosting company Rackspace, with whom he met in January -- Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund gave the company $100 million in 2007 to expand its operations in San Antonio.

Perry met with state officials and department heads, such as his July 17 meeting with then-House Speaker Tom Craddick, and was briefed on scheduled executions.

He went to a few funerals, met with Mexican officials in Mexico, and met with Swedish officials in Stockholm. He was also interviewed by the press, sometimes en masse at press conferences, sometimes by individual reporters -- his last interview of the year, the calendar says, was with Texas Monthly's Paul Burka, the day after Christmas, at Austin's Nuevo Leon restaurant.

View the calendars

Texas Watchdog sought and received paper copies of the governor's 2008 calendar under the Texas Public Information Act. (In a similar vein, we also obtained Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's calendar and published it last week.)

To make it easier on our readers -- it's a whole lot of paper -- we've divided up PDF files of the calendar into months. However, if you want to read the whole thing, you can still see it and download it at this link. You can also see the letter from the governor's office that accompanied the records.

Gov. Rick Perry's complete calendar for 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for January 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for February 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for March 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for April 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for May 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for June 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for July 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for August 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for September 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for October 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for November 2008
Gov. Rick Perry's calendar for December 2008
Letter from Gov. Rick Perry's office that accompanied his calendar

Reporters, bloggers, citizen-journalists — do you see something in the governor’s calendar worth noting? Shoot us a note — or a link to your blog item — at jennifer@texaswatchdog.org, or post in the comments section below.

Photo above: Gov. Rick Perry meets with victims of Hurricane Ike, from the governor's press Web site. Photo on home page: Radar image of Hurricane Ike making landfall, from the National Weather Service.

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