Wade Goodwyn

Wade Goodwyn is a NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.

Reporting for NPR since 1991, Goodwyn covers a wide range of issues from politics and music to breaking news and crime and punishment. His reports have ranged from weather calamities, religion, and corruption, to immigration, obituaries, business, and high profile court cases. Texas has it all, and Goodwyn has covered it.

Over the last 15 years, Goodwyn has reported on many of the nation's top stories. He's covered the implosion of Enron, the trials of Jeff Skilling and Kenneth Lay, and the prosecution of polygamist Warren Jeffs. Goodwyn's reporting has included the siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in Denver. He covered the Olympic Games in Atlanta and the school shootings in Paducah Ky., Jonesboro, Ark., and Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Among his most recent work has been the wrongful prosecution and conviction of black and Hispanic citizens in Texas and Louisiana. With American and Southwest Airlines headquartered in his backyard, coverage of the airline industry is also a constant for Goodwyn.

As Texas has moved to the vanguard in national Republican politics, Goodwyn has been at the front line as what happens politically in Texas, which is often a bellwether of the coming national political debate. He has covered the state's politicians dominating the national stage, including George W. Bush, Tom Delay and rising GOP star Texas Governor Rick Perry

Before coming to NPR, Goodwyn was a political consultant in New York City.

Goodwyn graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in history.

President Obama visited Waco, Texas, on Thursday day to take part in a memorial for those killed in the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, last week.

With the house-to-house search over and the living and dead largely accounted for, the town of West, Texas, began the transition from shock and disbelief to communal grieving.

On Friday night, mourners gathered at St. Mary Church of the Assumption to remember the dead. Many of the dead were first responders who were fighting a roaring fire for 30 minutes before the explosion, which was felt 80 miles away in Fort Worth.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn caused a stir when he suggested that there might be many more people missing than thought.



And let's turn now, briefly, to West, Texas, the scene of this week's fertilizer plant explosion. Many questions remain unanswered there. In fact, it's still hard to estimate how many people were killed. We do know that regulators had a few concerns with this plant in the past, though it's not clear if anybody questioned the plant's location near homes and a school.

And amid all these questions, the people of West are picking up and taking stock. Here's NPR's Wade Goodwyn.


This story is part of a two-part series about the construction industry in Texas. Find the first part here.

Homes in Texas are cheap — at least compared with much of the country. You can buy a brand new, five-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot house near Fort Worth for just $160,000.

But that affordability comes at a price — to workers, many of whom are in the country illegally and make $12 an hour or less, but also to business owners.

Like almost everything in the Texas, the construction industry in the Lone Star State is big. One in every 13 workers here is employed in the state's $54 billion-per-year construction industry.

Homebuilding and commercial construction may be an economic driver for the state, but it's also an industry riddled with hazards. Years of illegal immigration have pushed wages down, and accidents and wage fraud are common. Of the nearly 1 million workers laboring in construction here, approximately half are undocumented.

There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.

Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.

Another member of the Bush family is throwing his hat into the political ring: George Prescott Bush, 36, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, has announced he is running for office in Texas.

The Bush name is still strong in the Lone Star State: George P. has already raised nearly $1.4 million, though he still hasn't said which statewide office he will run for.

Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas is a bright young Hispanic star who will be sworn in this week in Washington. The Republican Party nationally hopes Cruz will be part of the solution to its growing problem luring Hispanic voters.

Almost nobody had heard of Cruz when he began his campaign for the U.S. Senate. But when he stepped in front of a microphone, he could light up a room in a way that made the other Republican candidates seem lifeless.

A growing number of lawmakers are indicating they are open to considering new gun control measures in the wake of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But while much of the national debate has focused on limiting access to guns, others are suggesting that schools should arm themselves to defend against attacks.

David Thweatt, school superintendent for the small Texas town of Harrold, northwest of Fort Worth, decided in 2006 that it was time to arm his staff. There's only one school in Harrold, a K-12 with 103 students.

A federal court in Texas on Monday will take up the case of a high-school student who refuses to wear her location-tracking school ID.

The 15-year-old sophomore says the ID badge, which has an embedded radio frequency identification tag, is a violation of her rights. The student, Andrea Hernandez, believes the ID is "the mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelation.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish. American Airlines has been in bankruptcy for more than a year and looks like it will be there a while longer. The airline has asked a judge in New York for yet another extension to file its restructuring plan. Executives are hoping American can remain a standalone carrier. The company's unions, on the other hand, say they've had it and they want the company to merge with U.S. Airways.

The battle over the looming spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff" begins this week where it ended last week — deadlocked. While there is no agreement on how lawmakers should work out the details of a compromise, there is widespread consensus that a deal must get done for the good of the country.

Republican governors got together in Las Vegas last week to take stock of the election results, which continue to sink in.

Going into Election Day, Republican confidence was high that the Grand Old Party would sweep President Obama aside, retake the U.S. Senate and reshape the country in the aftermath.

So on Nov. 6, when the results came in, many if not most Republicans were shocked by the president's victory. Pat McCrory, the newly elected governor of North Carolina, however, saw it coming.

Pat Henneberry is an airline's dream customer. She flies all week, every week, and buying an $800 ticket so that she can have full flexibility is standard operating procedure. She's an American Airlines platinum customer. But she is fed up with the endless delays and cancellations.

Texas state Rep. Wayne Christian was born two blocks from where he now lives in what is called Deep East Texas.

"We were not wealthy people, [we were] common laborers, but that was typical in rural East Texas at that time," he says.

When he was growing up, Christian says, by first or second grade, an East Texas boy would accompany his father or grandfather on a hunting trip. But before a boy got a gun, he had to learn how to act — how to address the other men respectfully, to watch how it worked.

Quite a few Texas voters are seeing dead people in the mirror these days when they go to brush their teeth in the morning.

In Houston, high school nurse Terry Collins got a letter informing her that after 34 years of voting she was off the Harris County rolls. Sorry.

"Friday of last week, I got a letter saying that my voting registration would be revoked because I'm deceased, I'm dead. I was like, 'Oh, no I'm not!' " Collins says.

Officials in Texas say they will cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood following a federal court ruling last week. The decision by a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the state can defund the health clinics because Planned Parenthood is associated with abortion.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. Texas can't catch a break. First, a bitter drought, now officials in Dallas are fighting a nasty outbreak of West Nile virus. A quarter of the nation's current confirmed West Nile cases are in Dallas County. There, 10 people have died, and hundreds more have been sickened from mosquitoes carrying the virus.

For the first time in nearly half a century, much of the county has begun aerial spraying to control the pests. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has our story.

This fall, the U.S. Navy will contract three Cold War-era aircraft carriers — the USS Forrestal, the USS Saratoga and the USS Constellation — for scrapping. Often called "supercarriers" owing to their massive size, the ships contain nearly 60,000 tons of steel and other metal each.

All three carriers are likely to be sent to the landlocked city of Brownsville, Texas, to be ripped apart.

While severe drought is taking hold in the Midwest, Texas is doing better. At this time last year, the state was on fire, crops were desiccated in the field and livestock were slowly starving. But recent rains have almost ended more than a year of record drought.

"If you look at the way we were thinking and feeling on the last July 16, that was desperation. That was despair," says Gene Hall, public relations director for the Texas Farm Bureau.

Imagine going into bankruptcy with billions of dollars in cash still in your bank account. That's what American Airlines did last November. The thinking was that management would gut the company's pensions and union contracts and emerge from bankruptcy ready to compete.

But then US Airways said it could take over American and be profitable, and it wouldn't have to hurt American's employees nearly as bad in the process. American's pilots, mechanics and flight attendants loved that idea.



NPR's business news starts with a retail's lousy summer.


INSKEEP: It's been sunny in much of the country, but inside many stores, the attitude is gloomy - or at least it was during the month of June. The latest sales figures are in, and they show many consumers were not in a buying mood last month. NPR's Wade Goodwyn has more.

On the long drive to Falcon Lake, it slowly becomes apparent why it's ranked the No. 1 bass fishing lake in America: It's in the middle of nowhere.

The lake straddles the Texas-Mexico border, and San Antonio, the closest city, is a four-hour drive away.

A fisherman has to have some serious "want to" to take on Falcon Lake, as they say around here.

But plenty of anglers do. And the trek pays off, because the bass here are big. Very big.

As the sun beams down, Dorothy Flood, 75, stands on the steps of the Royal Gorge Route Railroad train, smiling like a 1940s movie star.

"Right there! Then turn around, right there!" photographers call out, jockeying to snap her picture. "Here we go, count of three — one, two and three!"

And with a tip of his cap, a porter offers Flood his hand, and her "Wish Of A Lifetime" begins.

It's high noon in Texas at the Stephenville Community Center out on Highway 67, and the Cross Timbers Republican Women's Club Candidates Forum is about to begin.

Time has run out on this Republican Senate primary. This is a last chance for the candidates to make an impression before Tuesday's vote. They're vying to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is retiring after serving for nearly 20 years.

The past few years in Texas have seen a parade of DNA exonerations: more than 40 men so far. The first exonerations were big news, but the type has grown smaller as Texans have watched a dismaying march of exonerees, their wasted years haunting the public conscience.

Yet a case in Williamson County, just north of Austin, is raising the ante. Michael Morton had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wife. He was released six months ago — 25 years after being convicted — when DNA testing proved he was not the killer.

With US Airways breathing down its neck, making nice with its unions as well as its creditors, American Airlines came to New York City on Monday to ask a federal bankruptcy judge for relief. Mostly, American wants relief from its unions — 13,000 jobs would be eliminated under its reorganization proposal. American has been hemorrhaging money for years and wants to lower its costs to compete.

In Houston Thursday, former President George H.W. Bush endorsed Mitt Romney's run for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush's endorsement is one more signal from the Republican establishment for the party to close ranks behind Romney.

The latest reports from the Federal Election Commission shed new light on the political largesse of two Texas businessmen who have become common names in the world of Republican fundraising.

With a $1 million check in February to the superPAC backing Rick Santorum, Dallas nuclear waste dump owner Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, have now contributed to groups supporting all three of the top GOP candidates.

A set of 13th-century Byzantine frescoes — plundered after Turkey invaded Cyprus and on display in Houston for the last 15 years — is headed home at last. It's the closing chapter in what turns out to be a remarkable odyssey.

It all started in the summer of 1974, when the Turkish army invaded Cyprus and nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees fleeing south.

"And so all the churches and homes and art was left behind," says Josef Helfenstein, director of the Menil Collection in Houston. "And after years, some of these churches began to be looted."