James McKinley Jr., the longtime Houston bureau chief for the Times who penned a controversial story about the alleged repeated rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas, back in March, is off the beat. At the time the Times’ public editor claimed that McKinley’s story “lacked balance,” and eventually, later in March, McKinley had another go at it. He’s back in New York and has been replaced in Houston by Manny Fernandez, who’s been working there for about a month now. We talked to a spokeswoman at the Times who assured us that McKinley’s transfer of beats — he’s now covering the arts — was unrelated to the rape story. According to the paper, he was never on any sort of probation or punishment, and in fact had requested the transfer many months ago.