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:

A few weeks ago, the coordinator of Baylor University's Title IX resigned, alleging that the school had prevented her from adequately investigating cases. Baylor denied the charges. But after her resignation, she appeared in a TV interview saying that a group of Baylor administrators “made sure they were protecting the brand, instead of our students.”

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:

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:

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:

In the U.S. and some 30 other countries, the law guarantees citizenship at birth. But for kids born in Texas, a birth certificate was far from a sure thing. In fact, a group of undocumented parents sued the state of Texas over policies denying birth certificates to their kids born here.

From Texas Standard:

Around this time last year, it appeared that Texas would play an outsized role in the 2016 race for the White House. A Texas senator was in the running, as well as a scion of a Texas political dynasty, a former business executive with Austin roots, the libertarian-leaning son of a longtime Texas congressman, and the longest-serving Texas governor in state history.

From Texas Standard:

One phrase often heard this year: There's never been a political year like 2016. But that’s not exactly true.

From Texas Standard:

Last May, nine people were killed, 20 injured and 177 people were arrested in a biker shootout at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. One hundred fifty people were indicted with a $1 million bail set for each of them. As we approach one year later, not a single person has seen trial. In fact, there hasn't been a single trial date set, either.

From Texas Standard:

The Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has long fought extradition to face drug charges in the U.S. but that’s changed.

From Texas Standard:

This morning the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the second and final felony charge of abuse of power against former Gov. Rick Perry.

From Texas Standard:

House Bill 11, passed during the 2015 legislative session, is a sweeping law pitched as part of a broader $800 million border security effort. It expands the border presence of the Texas National Guard, green-lights hiring more troopers, and mandates an intelligence center to analyze crime data at the border.

One of the law’s other provisions has recently drawn a lawsuit that's just now making headlines. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, better known as MALDEF, has filed suit against Texas over what's called the “immigrant harboring” provision. They argue that it's unconstitutional under federal law.

 


From Texas Standard:

In November, state district Judge Judy Kocurek was shot in the driveway of her Austin home – a murder attempt that had been preceded by a phone tip to police. Kocurek was never informed of the threat against her.

Tony Plohetski, investigative reporter for the Austin American-Statesman, said it's unclear how many threats are made against judges in Texas and judges aren’t always informed of the threats to their safety.

 


From Texas Standard:

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has vowed to beat the odds and quash online sports gambling. Even if you don't play daily fantasy sports, you've probably encountered the names of the sites: Draft Kings, Fan Duel. They advertise incessantly so you might be tempted to admit that's a measure of their prominence and popularity.

Despite that popularity, those sites may soon be gone from Texas. Paxton says sites that charge players to compete cannot operate legally in the state.


From Texas Standard:

Gov. Greg Abbott is on his third official international trip since being sworn in last January. Yesterday in Jerusalem, the Governor met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Abbott said the purpose of the upcoming meeting was to promote business ties abroad.

However, since news broke over the weekend of the U.S. prisoner swap and an end to sanctions against Iran, Monday's meeting seemed more like a political trip. That’s left some scratching their heads, and others nodding in approval.

 


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