Jonathan McNamara

Best of The Observer 2012

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We’ve got a year’s worth of Texas Observers sitting on a table in our office, a year’s worth of stories of environmental injustice, cuts to women’s health, ripples of drug war violence, and more.

We’ve covered a lot of ground this year, but before we head into 2013—and a new legislative session—we want to share a staff-curated list of the Observer’s 10 best stories published this year. Come back daily for new additions to our 2012 retrospective.

tooheavytobearToo Heavy to Bear
by Patrick Michels
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2012

At 24, Ray Wauson was thrilled to land a job as an armored-car guard. But he was entering an unregulated world in which the people guarding the cargo are often defenseless against the cargo itself. Read the full story.



by Melissa del Bosque
Published Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Until her son got sick, Latricia Jones never thought much about the air she breathes or who was polluting it. At 31, she’d spent nearly her entire life in Corpus Christi’s Hillcrest neighborhood, living next to two oil refineries, one owned by Citgo and the other by Flint Hills Resources, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc. Read the full story.


gulfchemHeavy Metal
by Forrest Wilder
Published Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gulf Chemical may be the most brazen polluter in Texas. An Observer review of thousands of pages of court records and internal agency documents, and interviews with a former company executive reveals a company that operated outside the law for almost four decades, even as citizens, activists and TCEQ’s own investigators pleaded for action. Read the full story.


washingtonpostWashington Post Reporter Allows College Officials to Alter Story on Controversial Test
by Forrest Wilder
Published Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reporter breaks journalistic convention by sharing entire drafts with ‘customers’ in University of Texas press office. Read the full story.
lifeonthelistLife On the List
by Emily DePrang
Published Thursday, May 31, 2012

A single mistake when he was 12 landed Josh Gravens on Texas’ sex offender list. He’s been paying for it ever since. Read the full story.




heritageofabuseHeritage of Abuse
by Alex Hannaford
Updated Monday, April 23, 2012

A Texas Observer investigation has found allegations of child sex abuse involving at least six members of the Homestead Heritage community. Three members have been convicted of sexually assaulting minors. Read the full story.



glenroseTracking Creation in Glen Rose
by Robyn Ross
Published Wednesday, April 4, 2012

“Most everyone in Glen Rose that I know believes man and dinosaurs coexisted,” Alice Lance tells me at the annual tractor pull. “The only conflict we have is when people move from metropolitan areas and have different value systems. I think some don’t have a strong [religious] belief system, and they’re more likely to go with science than faith.” Read the full story.


nochoiceWe Have No Choice
by Carolyn Jones
Published Thursday, March 15, 2012

The painful decision to terminate a pregnancy is now—thanks to Texas’ harsh new law—just the beginning of the torment. Read the full story.




valleyofdeathThe Deadliest Place In Mexico
by Melissa del Bosque
Published Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To reach the deadliest place in Mexico, you take Carretera Federal 2, a well-paved stretch of highway that begins at the outskirts of Juarez, east for 50 miles along the Rio Grande, passing through cotton and alfalfa fields until you reach the rural Juarez Valley, said to have the highest murder rate in the country, if not the world. Read the full story.


keepingtimeKeeping Time In Lockhart
by Saul Elbein
Published on Thursday, February 2, 2012

The story of how Galbraith ended up devoting his life to the care and restoration of antique clocks reads like a fairy tale. It dates back 30 years to a now-vanished neighborhood in Austin, to the day when a simple act of kindness changed Galbraith’s life forever. Read the full story.