Sarah has been with the YNN family since 2004. She is a native New Yorker and graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I Newhouse School of Public Communications with a BS in Broadcast Journalism and Political Science. Sarah joined YNN Austin in August of 2009 and helped launch YNN's nightly political show, Capital Tonight, in 2011. When she’s not in the control room or updating the website, Sarah enjoys being in the field. Some highlights included producing the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and the Presidential Inauguration, as well as YNN’s “9/11 Ten Years Later” special one hour show from New York City.
Posts by Sarah Grady
Jun 18th - 12:21 pm
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg made her first public appearance Tuesday since serving jail time for a DWI. Lehmberg went before the Travis County Commissioners Court asking the county to help restore the $7.5 million dollars in funding that was cut from the Public Integrity Unit.
Gov. Rick Perry vetoed that portion of the budget Friday, making good on threats to do so if Lehmberg refused to step down. Perry has taken aim at Lehmberg’s personal integrity after she was arrested and served time for drunk driving in April. Jailhouse video showed Lehmberg acting unruly and repeatedly demanding that the employees “call Greg,” apparently in reference to Sheriff Greg Hamilton. Lehmberg has maintained she has no intention of stepping down.
The Texas Legislature provides a little more than $3 million in funding per year. That money allows the Public Integrity Unit to carry out its three main functions. The unit has statewide authority over cases involving insurance and motor fuel fraud. It also handles public corruption cases, which occur in Travis County. Funding for the Public Integrity Unit will run out September 1.
Critics have criticized Perry’s veto, saying the governor is using his power to shut down investigations into his office and its programs. “I can’t remember a time when there hasn’t been an attempt in the legislature to mess with the Public Integrity Unit,” Lehmberg said.
The court agreed Tuesday to explore ways to include funding in the county budget. ”We have to make decisions on unfunded mandates all the time,” Commissioner Ron Davis said. “We’ll do the best we can.”
The commissioners requested that the District Attorney’s office provide a breakdown of the Public Integrity Unit’s expenditures and agreed to explore ways to work it into the next budget without an undue burden on taxpayers. They will meet again, in two weeks.
Jun 17th - 12:04 pm
Texans would prefer a Ted Cruz run for President over a repeat of Gov. Perry’s 2012 bid. According to a new University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, 25 percent of people would vote for Sen. Cruz if the GOP primary was held today. Rand Paul ranked second at 13 percent followed by Marco Rubio with 11 percent. Perry came in fourth, with 10 percent support. It is worth noting that 21 percent of people said they didn’t know yet who their choice would be.
On the plus side for Perry, the same poll also shows he would beat Attorney General Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial primary race. Perry bested Abbott in that poll, Neither Perry nor Abbott has said yet if they plan to run. It seems a primary between the two would be unlikely, however. In January, Gov. Perry told WFAA-TV that if he sought reelection, Abbott would not challenge him. Perry has maintained that he will announce his plans after the legislative session ends. Abbott, it would appear, is waiting for Perry to make his plans public.
Jun 14th - 4:57 pm
Gov. Rick Perry’s pending trip to the Empire State is ruffling some feathers. Perry released a series of television and radio ads ahead of his trip, urging New York businesses to relocate to the Lone Star State.
But New Yorkers aren’t giving them up without a fight. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing state lawmakers to adopt his Tax Free NY proposal. It would provide for a decade of across-the-board tax-rebates for new businesses that settle near college campuses.
Cuomo took at dig a Perry’s ad campaign while promoting his initiative in Syracuse, N.Y. this week. He said:
“We now have Texas advertising in this state because they have no income tax so they’re advertising zero tax, you can come to Texas and pay no income tax. Our program goes one better: You can pay no income tax and you don’t have to move to Texas. You can live in New York.”
Governor Perry is set to visit New York and Connecticut for five days, starting Sunday.
Jun 14th - 12:02 pm
Did Gov. Rick Perry abuse his powers when he threatened to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refuses to step down? One watchdog group says yes and has filed a formal complaint with prosecutors.
Texans for Public Justice says Perry may have committed several crimes, including abuse of office, official oppression and coercion. “Governor Perry has no legal authority to remove the Travis Country District Attorney from her job. Threatening to take an official action against her office unless she voluntarily resigns is likely illegal,” said TPJ Director, Craig McDonald.
According to the complaint,
“Governor Perry’s official threats attempt to obtain two things that he can’t achieve through legal
democratic means. First, to remove an elected Democrat and replace her with an appointed
Republican DA. Second, to wipe out the state’s public corruption watchdog, which is currently
investigating corruption in at least one of the governor’s signature corporate subsidy programs.”
According to TPJ, the offenses range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony.
District Attorney Lehmberg was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges in April. She was sentenced to 45 days in jail and was released early for good behavior.
Earlier this week, the Austin American-Statesman first reported that Gov. Perry is threatening to use a line item veto to remove money for the Public Integrity Unit if Lehmberg does not step down. The Public Integrity Unit is funded partially by the Texas Legislature and prosecutes ethics and campaign finance violations. As Travis County DA, Lehmberg is the head of that unit.
Gov. Perry hasn’t responded to the complaint directly, but did say this, today:
“My bottom line is this. That we’re going to look at this budget. We’re going to make decisions about this budget, and Travis County is going to have to make a decision about whether or not they keep a district attorney who obviously has some real problems from the standpoint of…I mean people who’ve looked at the video will probably come to the conclusion of most folks. That that was pretty inappropriate activity.”
Jun 13th - 8:43 pm
Two days after the governor added abortion regulation to the special session, a Senate panel heard public testimony from both sides of the issue.
Click the video link below to see the latest from Thursday’s committee hearing, plus an update from Gov. Rick Perry on what’s in store for the rest of the special session.
Sen. Dan Patrick joined us to evaluate where the special session stands and give his take on Texas Monthly’s “worst list.” He also talked the possibility of running for lieutenant governor.
Plus, Democrat Harold Cook and Republican Rob Johnson break down everything that’s happening under the pink dome.
Jun 12th - 1:05 pm
Texas Monthly is out with its biennial “Best and Worst Legislators List.” Here they are, in no particular order.
- Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie)
- Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen)
- Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands)
- Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio)
- Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth)
- Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)
- Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
- Rep Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth)
- Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio)
- Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio)
- Rep. Van Taylor (R-Plano)
- Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas)
- Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D-El Paso)
- Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston)
- Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Houston)
- Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston)
- Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills)
- Comptroller Susan Combs (A “very special worst award” according to a Texas Monthly tweet)
- Rep. Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville)
- Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth)
And the “Bull of the Brazos” title went to Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston).
Be sure to watch the show, later tonight. Texas Monthly Executive Editor Paul Burka and contributor Sonia Smith will be on to talk more about why the reasons for their rankings.
Jun 12th - 11:53 am
Gov. Rick Perry is launching a second round of ads ahead of his trip to New York and Connecticut this weekend. Perry is headed to the Northeast for another job recruiting trip, similar to stops he’s already made in California and Chicago.
The $50,000 radio ad buy will air on nine radio stations this week. The ads feature Gov. Perry’s voice, urging New York businesses to move to Texas. Here’s an excerpt of the spot:
The “new” New York sounds a lot like the “old” New York.
Higher taxes. Stifling regulations. Bureaucrats telling you whether you can even drink a Big Gulp.
This is Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and there is a place where opportunity, freedom and innovation are flourishing, and that’s Texas.
The full ad, is below.
The radio ads will accompany several TV ads that are already airing. The commercials and Perry’s travel are being paid for by the group TexasOne. The governor says no tax dollars are being used for the initiative.
Jun 11th - 1:25 pm
Updated to add a statement from Gov. Perry
Gov. Rick Perry is adding two more issues to the lawmakers’ special session call. Perry this afternoon will announce that he will ask lawmakers to consider abortion regulations and mandatory life sentences for certain juvenile offenders.
Capital Tonight has confirmed the specific call is as follows:
- “Legislation relating to establishing a mandatory sentence of life with parole for a capital felony committed by a 17-year-old offender”
- “Legislation relating to the regulation of abortion procedures, providers, and facilities.”
Gov. Perry issued this statement on the expanded call:
“The horrors of the national late-term abortion industry are continuing to come to light, one atrocity at a time. Sadly, some of those same atrocities happen in our own state. In Texas, we value all life, and we’ve worked to cultivate a culture that supports the birth of every child. We have an obligation to protect unborn children, and to hold those who peddle these abortions to standards that would minimize the death, disease and pain they cause.”
Jun 11th - 12:09 pm
Gov. Rick Perry is threatening to strip state funding from the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, if District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refuses to resign. The Public Integrity Unit is funded partially by the Texas Legislature and prosecutes ethics and campaign finance violations.
According to an Austin American-Statesman exclusive, Perry intends to line-item veto that portion of the state budget. The governor’s office would not go into specifics, but spokesman Rick Parsons told the paper “we’re going through the budget line by line. (The governor) has very deep concerns about the integrity of the Public Integrity Unit.”
Lehmberg was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges in April. Police records show her blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. Jailhouse surveillance video also shows Lehmberg acting belligerently toward the jailers. Lehmberg was sentenced to 45 days in jail and was released in early for good behavior.
Despite numerous petitions and lawsuits from attorneys and lawmakers alike, Lehmberg has maintained she will not step down as district attorney and head of the Public Integrity Unit. In court today, a judge determined that Lehmberg will face a jury in two separate lawsuits. One claims Lehmberg violated a code of conduct that states she cannot be intoxicated on or off duty. The other is for official misconduct, based on her actions in jail.
If Lehmberg chooses to step down, or is forced out of office, Gov. Perry would appoint her replacement.
Jun 10th - 7:28 pm
Gov. Rick Perry put pen to paper, officially signing a stack of education bills into law today, including House Bill 5.
Many were closely monitoring the fate of the graduation requirement legislation amid rumors that Gov. Rick Perry would veto the measure.
The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg offered his thoughts on what Perry’s non-veto might mean and analyzes the governor’s decision to add transportation to the special session call.
On the Agenda
Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown sat down with the Lonnie Hollingsworth from the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. Click the video link below to get his take on the new law and hear what he says still needs to be done.