Tuesday, June 29, 2010

House To Vote On Massive Financial Reform Bill

Chet Edwards voted yes on DISCLOSE Act sent to Senate

U.S. Representatives will vote this week on a massive
financial reform bill sponsored by Banking Committee
Chairman Barney Frank.

Titled the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, the new law is opposed by
nearly all Republican members of Congress and supported
across the board by Democrats following a successful vote
last week to file a conference report jointly with Senate

The new law is aimed at transparency in financial dealings
and putting an end to government bailouts of financial
institutions deemed "too big to fail."

Co-authored by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), the bill

* protect consumers by creating a independent consumer
financial protection agency to end ripoffs such as
"exploding mortgages;"

* end bailouts by setting up procedures to wind down
failing financial institutions by making banks - not
taxpayers - foot the bill;

* limit the risky practices that got banks into trouble and
forces banks to set aside much higher reserves to cushion
the blows when things go wrong;

* shut down the "shadow markets" created by the trade in
derivatives, which are currently secret, highly risky and
virtually unregulated.

In other matters, U.S. Representative Chet Edwards voted yes
in a very close call of the question on the Democracy is
Strengthened by Casing Light on Spending in Elections
(DISCLOSE) Act, which passed 219-206 with 8 members not
voting. The bill would require new practices in reporting
for corporations, unions and other interest groups for
campaign-related activities. The bill now goes to the

Monday, June 28, 2010

High Court Affirms 2nd Amendment Rights in 5-4 Split

"Ambiguous" opinion continues "Balkanized" approach to gun rights

"I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by six." - popular
gun rights advocates' saying

Americans will have to take their chances if they choose to
pack a pistol in cities ruled by gun-toting criminals.

In a 5-4 decision a dissenting Justice termed "ambiguous,"
the nation's highest court affirmed the Second Amendment
right of citizens to keep and bear arms today.

There is a caveat, however.

The holding stopped short of declaring unconstitutional the
practice of certain political subdivisions such as
individual states and cities such as Chicago and Washington,
D.C., of imposing "reasonable" gun control measures.

However, McDonald v. Chicago struck down an outright ban on
all handguns within that city's limits - and presumably all
others such as San Francisco which totally outlaw the
possession of a handgun, even if it is kept in the home for
self protection.

The case stems from a complaint filed in federal court by
Otis McDonald, a south side community activist who was
frustrated in his need for legal possession of a handgun he
intended to use to protect himself from the threat of
violence of gangs.

In the Court's majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote,
"It cannot be doubted that the right to bear arms was
regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that
could be ignored so long as states legislated in an
evenhanded manner."

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer protested
the implications of the decision, saying "Incorporating the
right may change the law in many of the 50 states. Read in
the majority's favor, the historical evidence is at most

He refers to the types of gun control and registration
techniques put in place in Washington, D.C., in a similar
decision handed down two years ago. In that case, a federal
security guard was prohibited from having a handgun in his
home due to city law, even though he was licensed to carry a
handgun in his professional duties.

The Court extended the Second Amendment right to all
citizens of all jurisdictions, but, similarly, allowed
cities and states to continue to regulate the privilege
under local rules.

It settled once and for all the question of whether the
right to keep and bear arms was strictly a federal
guarantee, or did it extend to the jurisdiction of other
political subdivision of the U.S.

The polarized debate continued, with conflicting opinions
from activists who have argued for decades over the conflict
that either the right extends to the individual to have a
gun, or to society at large, allowing a prohibition of
individual rights to keep and bear arms in favor of a
"statist" or collective interpretation of the 27-word
amendment that bluntly states, in part, "...the right of the
people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

"Today marks a great moment in American history," said Wayne
LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. "It is a
vindication for the great majority of American citizens who
have always believed the Second Amendment was an indivudual
right and freedom worth defending."

Bill Flores, a conservative Republican candidate for Congress-
ional District 17, applauded the Court's decision. He said,
"Today's ruling is good news for Americans who want to see their
Second Amendment rights protected, not infringed upon by act-
ivist states and local governments. Across the country in places
like New Jersey, Chicago, Washington, D.C., laws exist that dras-
tically limit the fundamental rights of Americans to legally pos-
sess firearms - in direct violation of the Second Amendment.

"The right to keep and bear arms is fundamental to our way of
life. If am elected to Congress I will continue to support the
the rights of gun owners."

Mr. Flores, a retired oil executive with much experience drilling
on offshore leases developed by his companies, is a member of the
National Rifle Association.

On the other end of the spectrum, Paul Helmke of the Brady
Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, said, "There is nothing in
today's decision that should prevent any state or local
government from succesfully defending, maintaining, or
passing, sensible, strong gun laws."

The Court used the 14th Amendment as the basis for its
holding, citing the guarantee that no person shall be
deprived of "life, liberty or property without due process
of law."

That amendment was passed soon after the Civil War to
insure, in part, that freed Afro-American slaves were not
denied the right to keep and bear arms in self defense,
among other issues.

Numerous cases decided by appellate courts have held that
police are under no legal obligation to protect citizens
from the criminal actions of those who threaten or assalt
them, with or without a display of weapons of any type.

Readers might like to review a discussion of this body of
case law in "The Legendary" for 6/20/2010.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Honky Tonk Hero" Back In Six Shooter Junction

Saturday night at Wild West Saloon satisfies hometown crowd

"...Let the world call me a fool..."

More than 35 years have passed since I first saw Billy Joe
Shaver on stage doing the kind of material that touches all
the honky tonk bases.

What has changed?

In his first appearane in his home town of Waco since being
acquitted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in a
2007 beer joint confrontation, his material is rock steady
and true to the cause of outlawry, but the affect of the
outlaw that spearheaded a brand new direction in Texas
country music has changed considerably.

For one thing, gone are the hard-charging, steamrollered
sets of the past with a muscular front man strumming as if
fanning flames, shouting into the mike, his hatchet face set
in granite. For another, Billy Joe Shaver acknowledges the
hurt and the accursed lonely feelings that have accompanied
his bereavement, the loss of his wife and son in the same

He ended one recitation, "You Are My Star," a lyric poem
about his son, the guitarist Eddie Shaver, on one knee,
having swept off his Stetson, his voice quavering in genuine

I thought of my own son, out playing a gig somewhere in the
neon jungle of a full moon Saturday night and never felt so
lucky in my life.

In another, he stood flat-footed and hooted out his
frustrations in a hillbilly poker holler rant over the
three-time on-again, off-again marriage to Wanda, the woman
whose honor he avenged in an armed confrontation with Billy
Coaker on the back porch of Papa Joe's at Lorena, a highway
road house where he shot the man in the mouth with a .22
derringer for making intemperate remarks about her past
relations with a husband who shot himself in a successful
suicide attempt.

The band is tighter, nothing short of amazing, its rhythm
section of drums and double upright bass steady as a clock,
the lead on Stratocaster piloted by a 16-year-old picker
named Adam Carter whose soaring, towering cumulus clouds of
glissandos and arpeggios from the seven to the 9 to the 11
indicate an understanding of the genre that speaks of pure
dee neon flowing in his veins.

Old standards such as "Let The World Call Me A Fool" with
its march beat first popularized by the likes of Waylon
Jennings come through in the voice of a central Texas picker
and grinner with an extra good perception of what makes men
and women tick on a planet that seem to be always on the
verge of spinning madly out of control.

"...I turn and walk away from you
just because you ask me to..."

On many of his songs, he took off his cowboy hat and perched
it on the neck of his guitar while he waved his hands and arms
in the air and danced like a crazed silver-haired shaman
around the buffalo skull of the holy barrier of a sweat lodge
fire where they boil out the poison accumulated on the campaigns
of some kind of secret warrior class.

On others, he faced the crowd and chanted the familiar words
of songs like "Honky Tonk Heroes" in a delivery not all that
different than that of any aging kicker standing around on
one boot heel, then the other on a Saturday night in front
of the filling station or the domino hall.

"...If the Devil made me do it the first time,
the second time I done it on my own..."

The medium-sized, friendly hometown crowd danced and drank
and clapped and stomped their way through an hour and a half
show at the Wild West Saloon in downtown Six Shooter
Junction, a stone's throw from the Brazos, and rejoiced that
their honky tonk hero is out and about with them and not in
the penitentiary.

His attorney, famed murder lawyer Dick DeGuerin of Houston,
plead down his original crime of shooting a man in the mouth
to a self defense case acquittal by jury and the net result
of a guilty plea to a Class A misdemeanor instead of the
original felony charge of carrying a firearm on premises
licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

The end result - a $1,000 fine and loss of concealed handgun
privileges - is easy on the ears, hard on the heart and heavy
on the emotions. It gives the soul a good Texas beer joint
wringing out.

It is the performance of a consummate showman, a well-seasoned
man of the road, the kind of honky tonk hero who waits in the
dark for a knife-wielding assailant to show his silhouette in the
light of the opened back door doorway of a Texas road house, asks
him where we wants it, then aims for the offending mouth and squeezes
off a round, cool as a cucumber.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Teen Border Patrol Shot Had 4 Arrests For Smuggling

FBI still investigating civil rights case against agent

Though Border Patrol officials refuse to comment, the teen-
aged boy an agent shot recently in downtown El Paso had a
four-time arrest record for human smuggling - two of them
during the same week of February, 2009.

The shooting is still under FBI investigation into the
question of whether the federal agents violated the civil
rights of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Huereca when one of them
killed him on June 7 under a railroad bridge in the border

Video images captured at the time show a Border Patrol Agent
chasing a group of youngsters on a bicycle, detaining one of
them and firing at Hernandez after the boys had showered
agents with rocks.

Records indicate that once when agents arrested him,
Hernandez was to have been paid $50 per person for guiding
illegal immigrants across the river at El Paso.

U.S. Attorneys declined each time he was arrested to file
charges against the youth.

His mother, Maria Guadalupe Huereca, said she does not
believe he was ever arrested. "It's a lie," she told the
Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Alaska BP Offshore Rig Drills While Others Sit Idle

Two-mile deep hole will slant 8 miles horizontal to new reserve

Offshore wells in the Beaufort Sea are sitting idle under a
drilling moratorium - except one.

British Petroleum's Liberty project has been exempted from
the offshore drilling ban because it is drilling in the
Beaufort Sea from a man-made gravel island in shallow water.

The well is projected to go two miles deep, then slant
horizontally for up to 8 miles to reach a new reserve of
about 100 million barrels on a federal lease.

How did the giant oil company get its special permission?

Scientists at the regulatory agency that ramrods such
permits insist that the 2007 permit process was taken out of
their hands and turned over to another division known to be
much more "pro-drilling."

The project was thus granted an "onshore" status, though it
is located on the artificial gravel island some five miles
offshore and reached by a causeway.

According to a New York Times story that appeared today,
federal regulators took a break from their usual practice
and allowed BP to write its own environmental review and
other consultation documents regarding endangered species.

The story attributed the information to two unnamed
scientists with the Mineral Management Service.

Constructing such man-made islands upon which to base
drilling operations is a standard practice in the area due
to ice floes that threaten the structure of conventional
offshore rigs.

"Impact to wetlands have been significantly reduced
including shoreline and tundra habitat for birds and
caribou," according to the development proposal written in
2007 by BP staff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kip Averitt Will Pull His Name Off SD 22 Ballot

He tells local Waco media that he is confident in the people's choice

Senator Kip Averitt reversed his position and said he will take his
off the General Election ballot, after all.

He had earlier said he would remain on the ballot as the sole candidate,
elected by default to his Senate seat though he resigened his current term.

His intended replacement, former Senator David Sibley, lost by 3,500 votes
Col. Brian Birdwell who garnered way more than 50 percent of the vote in 8
of 10 counties in the district.

After looking at the election figures, he said, he changed his mind.

He had earlier said he didn't want a certain eligibility question cloud
the issue of the General Election. Since County Republican Chairmen will
be able to pick any candidate they may choose, Senator Averitt said he
is confident the chairmen know all about the eligibility question re-
garding Col. Birdwell's residency for the past 5 years, part of which he
spent in Virginia following his 2004 retirement from the Army.

Homeland Security Figures In Telephone Tariff Rift

Lampasas County Judge: Sounds like "west Texas wind..."

Stand by for blood spatter and feathers on the floor today
at the Heart of Texas Council of Government meeting.

Some columns of the legions will be reading the chicken
entrails for the auspices attached to fighting state
legislators for hundreds of millions in telephone franchise

It's budget crunching time again on this part of the

County Judges are up in arms over a joint House-Senate
scheme in the Texas Legislature to "consolidate" 911
broadcasting sites due to the heightened demands of
"Homeland Security."

How to pay for it? Just hold on to the money they are
expected to apportion back to counties from a massive 911
telephone surcharge collected on every toll call.

The County Judges intend to fight to hold on to their
constituents' money.

Bosque County Judge Cole Word estimates that the slush fund
created by a 50-cent surcharge on all toll calls that is
dedicated to 911 funding now counts as much as $100 million.

"If you're a home rule County - 100,000 or more in
population - then you get to keep your 911 money. We in
smaller counties have to go to Austin and apply to get ours
back," he said.

"Daddy always said 'Follow the money' if you want to know
what's going on with something." Judge Word's father served
multiple terms in the same post in Bosque County, as did
three other ancestors of his.

The truth is, counties with small populations are supposed
to get back .38 cents of each .50 cent state 911 surcharge
collected in the Telephone Interchange Franchise Fee on toll

It ain't always necessarily so, according to the Judge.

Now comes the Senate Finance Committee, in league with their
counterpart on the other side of the rotunda, and proposes
to cause County governments to create yet another unfunded
mandate by requiring all to finance the relocation of 911
radio repeaters and other communications gear in centralized

How will it be paid for? In part, through a dedicated funds
"budget offset," as proposed by the Senate Finance

Said Milam County Judge F. Summers, if the state expects
counties to pay twice, "the real irony is that in this case
it is already funded."

At least one judge accused legislators of "trying to look
like they're balancing a budget."

It's the subject of numerous e-mails flying back and forth
between his counterparts in Milam, Lampasas and Bosque

The conflict: Representative Jimmie Don Aycock of Lampasas,
a member of the House Appropriations Committee, sits on the
joint House-Senate Finance Committee, but claims he has no
vote in the matter. His committee assignment is sensitive
to the issue because he is also a member of the
Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice.

According to Judge Wayne Boultinghouse of Lampasas County,
who called Representative Aycock's office to object to the
state raiding 911 funds, Representative Aycock's aide said
"the decision was made by the Senate Finance Committee to
use monies to help balance the budget. She said the rep does
not get a vote, but I told her that he surely could talk to
senators about our displeasure the way things are done to
make the 'good old boys' look better in capitol city! All
this barking about Homeland Security is beginning to sound
more like the west Texas wind blowing through a mesquite

According to Judge Jerry Bearden, "...Seven out of 8
legislators denied even knowing about the 911 funds issue
when I asked about it...Maybe we need to have a County
Judges meeting before the session starts instead of waiting
until they are all in Austin. Boy Scout motto: 'Be

The agreement has been struck, the consensus is there. Said
James Allison, "Rep. Aycock is a member of the House
Appropriations Committee. Of course, if he does not follow
the recommendations of the House leadership, he may not be
on the committee again. Nevertheless, it is time to call the
legislature to account for this unethical practice..."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GOP Chairman Hits "Charade" By McLennan Honchos

Bosque's Dr. Tom Bratcher - "Special election cost $32K"

After the final votes were tallied and former Senator David
Sibley conceded defeat to Col. Brian Birdwell, the local GOP
Chairman spoke up and said, "Well, that little charade by
Joe B. Hinton, M.A. Taylor, Chris DeCluitt and Kip Averitt
cost this county $32,000.

Dr. Tom Bratcher, newly elected GOP County Chairman for
Bosque County, was very critical of the fact that Sibley
lost by 3,500 votes in 10 counties in which he carried only
two - McLennan and Falls.

Bosque County Commissioners, he said, insisted on keeping
all 16 voting precincts open in an election in which less
than 1,000 people voted - at an expense of $1,000 per box.
The total of $32,000, for the Special Election and the run-
off, he said, was an unnecessary expense.

They could have kept only one polling place open in each
Commissioners' District, which would have cost only 25
percent of the day's total expense of $16,000.

"These County Commissioners don't know how to count."

He also criticized the insistence of McLennan County
Republican Chairman Joe B. Hinton, former chair M.A. Taylor,
recently defeated State Republican Executive Committee Chris
DeCluitt and former Senator Kip Averitt for what he termed a
"charade" in which Senator Averitt first filed for the
nomination, vowed he would not run if nominated, then won
the election and forced a special election by resigning from
his unexpired term. which ends in January of 2011.

Now Senator Averitt, the only nominee for the General
Election of November, is by default the elected Senator for
District 22 unless he resigns sometime before a certain date
in August.

He told various media outlets today that if Col. Brian
Birdwell won, he would keep his seat and come back to serve
as State Senator for yet another term since he feels much
better now, able to complete his term in spite of a heart
condition and a diabetic problem.

Senator Averitt insists that Col. Birdwell is not eligible
to serve as Senator because he has not had residence in the
district for the past 5 years, as required by Texas election

Col. Brian Birdwell is a decorated hero of the Gulf War,
holds the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for the
horrendous burns he suffered in the 9/11 attack on the
Pentagon, and insists he is within his rights as a
serviceman to call Texas his residence even though he was
away serving on active duty in Virginia.

If he does resign, Democratic County Chairmen could file
suit and take the seat due to an interpretation of the law,
something Senator Averitt vows he will not let happen.

Federal Judge Slaps Down Obama's 6 Month Drilling Ban

New Orleans - District Judge Martin Feldman overturned a
Presidential order that imposed a 6-month moratorium on
deepwater drilling in the Gulf.

He held that President Barack Obama acted "rashly" when he
assumed that because Transocean's Deepwater Horizon exploded
and sank as the reult of a blowout of a British Petroleum
well, 33 others in very deep water would, too.

The President also cancelled permits for any new deepwater

Companies that service, supply and transport personnel and
goods to the platforms asked for injunctive relief to
overturn the President's moratorium.

Their grounds consisted primarily of the argument that he
had reacted arbitrarily after the blowout and explosion that
has so far resulted in varying estimates of crude in the
neighborhood of between 60 and 120 millions of gallons
spewing into the water unchecked.

In siding with the companies, the judge wrote, "What seems
clear is the the federal government has been pressed by what
happened on the Deepwater Horizon into an otherwise sweeping
confirmation that all Gulf deepwater drilling activities put
us all in a universal threat of irreparable harm."

The White House promised an immediate appeal.

Petroleum executives meeting in London earlier in the day
warned that the moratorium will cripple the industry and
cause undue economic hardship throughout the world.

Morrison Report Taps Birdwell Over Sibley In SD 22

He points out gifts to liberal Demos, Rapoport endorsement

State Senate candidate Brian Birdwell picked up the key
election day endorsement of conservative blogger Peter
Morrison of Lumberton.

Mr. Morrison pointed out recent local news reports that a
well-known liberal, megabucks insurance magnate and real
estate operator Bernard Rapoport, has been making personal
phone calls to area voters, asking them to vote for former
Senator David Sibley.

He also mentioned Texas Ethics Commission records that
indicate Mr. Sibley, a former lobbyist for 11 power
companies, the Brazos River Authority, trial lawyers
associations and State Farm Insurance, has made numerous
contributions to liberal Democratic legislators such as
Waco's Representative Jim Dunham while working against the
re-election prospects of conservative Representative Doc
Anderson of Waco.

Author of "The Morrison Report," he is known in Texas
political circles for focussing on conservative hot button
issues such as right to life, prayer, health care and
lowering taxes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Swing" Vote Of Independents Has Swung Against O-Man

53 percent of independents would vote against Obama today

The independent swing vote that elected President Obama in
2008 has turned against him.

According to a Gallup Poll released this morning, 51 percent
of registered voters surveyed say they will vote against the
President, denying him a new term in 2012.

Of these, 53 percent of self-described independents say they
will vote against Mr. Obama in a subsequent election. Forty-
six percent of registered voters would vote for the
President if the election were held today while only 3
percent said the "don't know" what their choice would be.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To Protect And To Serve? "No Way" - Courts

Police under no legal obligation to protect citizens under attack

Central Texans and the rest of the world were subjected to
the world's most protracted demonstration of police power
vis a vis armed citizen resistance to attack.

It happened at the Branch Davidian Compound near the rural
McLennan County community of Elk, Texas, on February 28,
1993, when BATFE agents clad in Kevlar armor and black Ninja
suits stormed the multi-family residence and a shootout
resulted in the deaths of 4 agents and wounding of numerous
Davidians. The situation rapidly deteriorated into an armed

If you own a television set, you know the end result.

The place burned down in a matter of minutes more than a
month later, costing the lives of most of the people,
including innocent children, who were still inside.

What caused that hassle?

Would you believe it was politics?

It's simple enough. That particular weekend in 1993, the
Texas Legislature voted out a Concealed Carry Handgun Law
that would allow citizens to conceal pistols under their
clothing and use them to defend themselves and others from
the vicious attacks of criminals.

They were prompted by a number of insane attacks by gunmen
bent on killing everyone in sight, such as the rampage of
George Hennard at Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen.

Long before police could respond to the emergency, he had
mowed down a large number of innocent people.

It just so happened that a liberal Democrat, Governor Ann
Richards, had vowed to veto any concealed carry handgun bill
as soon as it hit her desk.

That same weekend, the largest association of Chiefs of
Police in the world was holding their convention at Austin.
They had descended in large numbers on legislators' offices
at the Capitol, begging them, "Please, don't do this.

"We don't want a bunch of armed yahoos, amateurs untrained
in police science, wandering around with deadly weapons
concealed in holsters under ther clothing and in their

As soon as the conservative Republican George W. Bush was
elected Governor, he signed another version of the bill
before the ink was dry on the document. It was a campaign
promise and he made good on it immediately.

Anyone who tells you it's unnecessary to be armed and ready
to defend yourself, family and friends with any means
necessary, including deadly firearms, is trying to sell you
on the notion that the state and the armed police officers
employed by the state will be able to protect you from

It's just not true. Take a look at the record; look at the
case law; read the statutes. It's an eye opener.

You are sitting in your living room late on a weekday
evening. Suddenly, there is a loud knock at the door and
people outside shouting. When you crack the door to take a
peek, someone throws his weight against it and bursts

Your home has just been invaded by three men who think you
have a large quantity of drugs stashed inside. They're
wrong, but they won't believe you and you wind up with your
hands taped behind your back, gagged with a pair of your own
socks while they ransack your home.

As this drama began to unfold, you frantically called 9-1-1,
but no one ever arrived at your home to protect you. After
all, where is the crime? Someone knocked on the door?

Big deal.

Guess what.

The police are under no legal obligation whatsoever to do
so. They don't have to protect you. It's just not their

"To protect and to serve" looks great when it's a decal
applied to the side of a black and white.

In the black and white world of the law libraries, amid
dozens upon dozens of court cases, the slogan is just an
empty and idle thing to emblazon upon the side of a police
car. It just doesn't figure.

No way. No how.

There is no such holding, no such legal doctrine under the
law of the land.

Many judges and appellate justices - state and federal -
have held that police officers are in no way negligent when
they fail to heed pleas for protection or respond to summons
to homes or places of business where violent perpetrators
are having their way.

Who is responsible?

You are responsible.

It's the truth. Judges have charged ordinary citizens with
the responsibility for their own protection.

The police not only cannot protect you, they don't even have
to come when you call.

Heed the wisdom of a widely published practicing attorney,
Richard W. Stevens, a Washington, D.C. - based lawyer who
penned a comprehensive discussion on the subject in "The
Freeman: Ideas On Liberty."

Mr. Stevens recounts several chilling incidents that led to
holdings in landmark cases. One of them regards the
experience of three women and a child in his hometown,

In the pre-dawn hours of March 16, 1975, two men knocked on
the door of a three-story home housing two families and
demanded entry where they had no right to intrude.

The women called police who came to the home under a low
priority dispatch, did a quick walk-around in the yard and
knocked on the doors, but, getting no response, went on
their way.

After the police cleared out, the men returned and broke
down the door. They raped one of the women, a lady who
lived on the second floor. When she screamed, her house
mates called police again.

They told them of the sexual assault that was by then taking
place downstairs in their home. The dispatcher promised help
was on the way.

The police never arrived.

During the next 14 hours, the two assailants kidnapped,
robbed, repeatedly raped and beat all three women.

Following their ordeal, they sued the city for negligence
and the trial court in that jurisdiction ruled to affirm the
"fundamental principle that a government and its agents are
under no general duty to provide public services, such as
police protection, to any particular individual citizen."
(Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1,4 (D.C. 1981)

On appeal, the highest court in that jurisdiction upheld the
decision of the trial court.

In most states, the law is the same. Kansas precludes
citizens from suing the government or the police for
negligently failing to to provide police or fire protection.

Some states apply the "sovereign immunity" defense, a
throwback to the days when subjects were forbidden to sue
the King. Others apply what is ironically called the
"public duty" doctrine. "Police owe a duty to protect the
public in general, but not to protect any prarticular

A California law states that "neither a public entity nor a
public employee is liable for failure to establish a police
department or otherwise provide police protection services."
A state appellate court wrote, "Police officers have no
affirmative statutory duty to do anything." (Souza v. City
of Antioch, 62 California Reporter, 2d 909, 916, Cal. App.

But it's the same from the east coast to the west coast.

Consider the case of Ford v. Town of Grafton (693 N.E. 2d
1047, Mass App. 1998).

Though Catherine Ford obtained a court order to stop her
husband James from harrassing and abusing her following
their separation, police did nothing much to prevent his bad
behavior, which extended, unpredictably, "around the clock."

One officer went so far as to suggest she "get a gun."

She didn't do that. Catherine took the statist view, a
social contract that goes something like this.

Police are certified, legally armed; therefore, police
should protect her from violence and threatened violence,
since she is a non-violent citizen.

For the next 15 months, James threatened to kill her and her
family. Police did nothing to protect her.

When he made his final threat on January 16, 1986, she
reported, once again, that he was prowling her house, making
threats to kill her.

At 8 p.m. the following day, he began to break down her back
door and she fled through the front door, dashing across
multiple lanes of moving traffic and beating on neighbors'

No one would let her come inside.

No one made any move to protect her.

James shot Catherine three times, leaving her paralyzed for
the rest of her life.

A Massachusetts Court held that the city was not liable.

Though the police were obliged to arrest James for his
repeated violations of the court order, Catherine had been
told repeatedly that the police were unable to protect her.

Therefore, the court order that was supposed to restrain
James and protect Catherine "did not amount to an assurance
of safety or assistance."

Because she got no assurances of safety from the police, she
had no legal right to rely on the police to protect her.
The Court dismissed her case.

Had she chosen to get a firearm and take a training course
in defensive handgun tactics, she might have been able to
protect herself.

According to statistics, ordinary citizens use firearms two
million times each year to protect themselves from attacks
by criminals. (Kleck, Gary and Gertz, Mark, "Armed
Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-
Defense with a Gun," "Journal of Criminal Law and
Criminology," 14 (1995), p. 86)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hispanic Republican Club Joining 21st Century

Marketing research, branding, focus group to confab Friday

Conservative political organizing in the Hispanic community
will enter a new era next week.

The Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County announced on
its website, GOPIsForMe.com, that it will host a focus group
of 90 people in a cineplex setting to be announced with a
few more than 100 units of stadium seating on the evening of
Sunday, July 25, according to its President, Duke Machado.

On hand for the event will be professional opinion
researchers who will hand out automatic hand-held electronic
units to 90 registered participants. In response to video,
Power Point and other projected presentations, the group
will be asked to register their responses to a central
computer linked by radio waves to the hand-held "clickers."

The idea is to probe members of the Hispanic community in
the Waco area on what their expectations are of conservative
political figures, how they would like to proceed with plans
to take back their country, and just how close their own
traditional Hispanic family values are to traditional
conservative political values, said Mr. Machado.

Agenda items will be illegal immigration in all its
permutations such as the circumstances of an illegal with a
legal family, a legal with an illegal family and other
combinations, English as an official language in business
and education, and border security.

To register for the event, participants should contact Mr.
Machado at duke@gopisforme.com or 254-214-9368.

Rep. Joe Barton Stands Up For Big Oil in Hearing

The interest of his district is deeply seated in the oil patch
Somebody knows something; high time we found it out, too

Now cast as a member of the loyal opposition, Joe Barton, a
Republican of District 6, expressed his shame last week at
what he termed a "shake down" of British Petroleum by the
Obama Administration in remarks before the House Energy and
Commerce Committee.

The source of his outrage - the establishment of an escrow
fund of $20 billion to compensate the fishermen and property
owners of the Gulf Coast - follows the worst drilling mishap
in the history of the petroleum industry.

Though he apologized almost immediately for his remarks, Mr.
Barton was not so hasty as to have forgotten his roots in
politics, which are deeply seated in the petroleum industry.

A Waco native with an undergraduate degree in industrial
engineering he earned from A&M in 1972, he went on to be
conferred a Master of Science in Industrial Administration
from Purdue University.

After a brief career as a White House Fellow under Secretary
of Energy James B. Edwards in 1981, he began consulting for
the last of the great wildcatters, Atlantic Richfield Oil &
Gas Co., the outfit that brought in the North Slope
"elephant" in the early seventies.

He won his seat in Congress by defeating Dan Kubiak with 56
percent of the vote in a first and successful run to fill
the seat vacated by A&M Professor turned U.S. Rep. Phil
Gramm when he ran for the Senate in 1984.

Subsequent campaigns have been even more successful. He
received 88 percent of the vote in 2000 and 71 percent in
2002. In 2004, he defeated Democratic challenger Morris
Meyer by getting 66 percent of the vote.

Clearly, the voting public of his district of 650,000 people
of District 6 have no shame when it comes to Mr. Barton's
sentiments toward business in general and his loyalties to
the petroleum industry in particular.

The district consists of a sprawling area that runs from the
southeast corner of Tarrant County through Ellis and Navarro
Counties, and parts of Limestone, Freestone, Leon, Houston
and Trinity Counties.

It was at Corsicana in Navarro County that petroleum was
first discovered in Texas when the cotton kings of that east
Texas community contracted with drillers to find more water
and struck oil instead. Some of the wells in that field are
still pumping crude more than a century later.

Glory days came later with the advent of the Spindletop
Field near Beaumont and Kilgore, Mexia, Longview, thence to
West Texas and offshore.

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday,"
said Rep. Joe Barton during a hearing on Thursday morning
with BP's CEO Tony Hayward.

"I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a
private corporation can be subjected to what I would
characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion
shakedown -- with the attorney general of the United States,
who is legitimately conducting a criminal investigation and
has every right to do so to protect the American people,
participating in what amounts to a $20 billion slush fund
that's unprecedented in our nation's history, which has no
legal standing, which I think sets a terrible precedent for
our nation's future.

"I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone
else, but I apologize," Barton added. "I do not want to live
in a country where anytime a citizen or a corporation does
something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to
some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words,
amounts to a shakedown."

It's an interesting by play in this continuing drama, the
conflict between the oil industry and the environmentalists,
one in which the voters of District 6 have spoken time and

On the one hand, environmental lobbying organizations such
as the ultra-liberal Natural Resources Defense Council point
out that government estimates show 60 percent of the
untapped economically recoverable oil and 80 percent of the
untapped economically recoverable natural gas reserves on
the Outer Continental Shelf are located in areas that are
currently open to the oil industry.

In their view, there is no need for greater environmental
risks in the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida and

On the other hand, extremely conservative swash bucklers in
the petroleum industry, men who will wager millions upon
millions on the chance they can increase their
organization's net worth by discovering huge new reserves
under the ground they control, are hell bent on taking
greater and ever greater risks to exploit the nation's pool
of crude, no matter where it may be.

The pressure is enormous on both sides.

Certainly, Mr. Barton is entirely representative of that
creed peculiar to the corporate boardrooms of the investment
banks and independent oil operators of the southwest, that
the worth of the proven reserves on hand is the stock in
trade, the most important part of any oil company's balance

It was the guiding principle of the founder of
Antlantic Richfield, Robert O. Anderson, a man who took
breathtaking chances in his drive to fill the "energy gap"
created by the Libyn coup and theArab oil embargo and battled
the environmentalists for many years to bring his Prudhoe Bay
crude to market at the other end of the Alaska Pipeline.
Even more important, Mr. Barton has accepted some $1.4
million in campaign contributions from the oil industry,
according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

No surprises here.

You might say he is entirely representative of the interests
of one of the great OPEC nations, Texas.

It was the NRDC that went as far in the federal court system
as the Supreme Court to force the Bush Administration to
release documents regarding its "secret" energy policies
worked out by Vice President Dick Cheney with industry
giants looking to maintain their competitive edge by
increasing reserves reserves of petroleum, natural gas and

Though heavily redacted, the documents clearly show that the
conservative Texan in the White House was ready and willing
to call off the government's watchdogs in the oil fields,
the refineries and the mines if that would lead to an
increase in domestic reserves of non-renewable energy

Texans may rest assured that their wishes will be stewarded
with alacrity by oil men serving in the halls of Congress.
The conflict rages on.

As one pundit so aptly boiled the issues down to a concise
sound bite just the other day:

The Gulf Coast consists of two industries - fishing and
petroleum - and one of them just killed the other.

Was BP negligent in its risky venture a mile beneath the
surface of the Gulf, or was the government remiss in not
insisting on absolute safety in case of a mishap?

That argument will continue for decades while the people of
the bayous and beaches struggle for a new way to make ends
meet in the face of econimic ruin.

The question remains, will the government kill the survivor
and its dependent professional and blue collar employees?

On the world stage, it would be a shame if it did.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flores Slams Edwards For Obama Deep Drilling Ban

Stopping all offshore drilling costs jobs, hurts economy

Veteran offshore oil operator Bill Flores put a positive
spin on deepwater drilling operations.

He told voters why drilling and servicing deepwater
petroleum wells in the Gulf Of Mexico is a positive factor
in the sorely needed economic turnaround to which he and
other Republican Congressional candidates are dedicated.

Terming the six-month deep water moratorium ordered by Mr.
Obama "unwise," Mr. Flores praised legislation introduced by
Republican lawmakers that would lift the ban, saying such a
move would "prevent a second tragedy from occurring in
states from Texas to Florida."

The reulting loss of income for thousands of families who
work in the ancillary industries that "supply, support and
provide critical services for deepwater drilling operations"
will further cripple an ailing economy he and his colleagues
in GOP ranks seek to help get back on track.

Fresh from picking up a key endorsement from former
conservative Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Mr. Flores
said of proposed legislation introduced by Pete Olson (R-
Texas), "I support this legislation. On the other hand,
where does 20-year Congressman Chet Edwards stand on this

Horrified by the President's order to "issue a unilateral
drilling moratorium wihtout thinhking through the unintended
consequences of the decision," Mr. Flores reminded voters
that Mr. Edwards endorsed Mr. Obama during the Presidential
Primary races, citing the former Illinois State Senator and
U.S. Senator's "solid judgment."

"A moratorium on deepwater drilling for six months will have
a drastically negative impact on the Gulf regioin for 5-10
years, because energy services companies will not let their
rigs and equipment sit idle in the Gulf of Mexico whiley the
could instead be developing resources in other parts of the

The move will result in substantially higher energy costs,
he argued, because stopping production on 33 deep water rigs
in the Gulf will have a domino effect on service and supply
jobs affected by the service industry's pull-out for greener
pastures in West Africa, Brazil, the Persian Gulf and the
North Sea.

"...I disagree with his judgment!...

"President Obama and Congressman Edwards have no recent,
meaningful experience in the private sector. As a result,
they have little appreciation for the value of private
sector jobs and the support provided to families by those
jobs. In my view, private sector jobs are the best social
programs ever designed, because they provide housing, food,
education, local tax revenues, and they grow the GOP and the
wealth of our great nation."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two On GOP Exec Committee File Ethics Complaint

Chet Edwards targeted for breaking campaign website rules

Newly elected members of the State Republican Executive
Committee blew the whistle on U.S. Representative Chet
Edwards' website practices today.

In a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics, Janet
Jackson of Clifton and Jimmie Kerr of Waco registered a
complaint against the veteran Congressman.

They alleged that links between his regular website, which
he maintains as a member of the House of Representatives,
and his re-election campaign website are in violation of the
ethics rules that apply to members of Congress, according to
the "House Ethics Manual."

"Mr. Edwards violated the rules regarding campaign activity
and official resources. The rules set forth in the (House
Ethics) Manual clearly prohibit a Member from linking his
Member website to his campaign website.

"Mr. Edwards has linked his Member website to his campaign
website. For this reason, The Office of Congressional Ethics
should enforce the congressional ethics rules and hold Mr.
Edwards and his staff accountable for the ethics violations
they committed."

The pair urged a complete investigation of the matter in
their letter, addressed "To Whom It May Concern."

His opponent's campaign manager chimed in immediately,
releasing a statement to the press from the Bryan
headquarters of Bill Flores For Congress.

"Chet Edwards has chosen to disreagard clear and
unmistabkable rules regarding the use of official resources
and campaign activity for his own political beliefs,"
according to Matt Mackowiak.

Voters Nix Hospital District In Close Election

Goodall-Witcher to continue to operate at deficit - $800K

The economics of ObamaCare are easy to understand once you
get up close and personal with it.

As a Certified Texas Retirement Community, Clifton and
Bosque County are required to have a hospital.

The designation has its advantages when it comes to grants
and government programs that benefit senior citizens.

The question: Who is going to pay for it?

After the Congressional adoption of the ObamaCare package,
the Federal Department of Health and Human Services proposes
to cut the Part B fees they pay doctors by 21 percent across
the board.

The problem is that in the face of federal cutbacks designed
to insure all Americans and provide health care services,
the Goodall-Witcher Hospital is hard pressed to continue to
provide health care services. The hospital is a Qualified
Rural Health Care Facility under federal guidelines.

To qualify, such facilities must be located in a rural area,
take a team approach to health care that involves a role for
physicians's assistants and nurse practitioners, and be
located in a state that allows medical treatment to be
performed by qualified non-physicians.

Goodall-Witcher Hospital's books show a steadily increasing
operational deficit. Last year, the balance sheet showed a
net loss of $800,000, according to Clarence Fields,
administrator of the clinic and hospital that provides
services to the Bosque County area.

The deficit is adjusted from the amounts of charge-offs and
allowances that apply to a charity cost in 2009 of
$1,586,611 and a bad debt load of $1,151,493 for that year.

Voters rejected the creation of a hospital district in a
close special election yesterday. Though 922 voted to
create the new taxing district, 1,090 voted against it.

The district would have had an initial tax rate of .10 per
$100 in appraised value of taxable property - with a cap of
.25 per $100 in valuation. A successful creation of the
hospital district would have pumped badly needed money into
the failing local system.

What's next? "I can't say," Mr. Fields said. "At this
point, we're only 16 and a half hours past the election and
it's just too early to tell."

This much he does know.

The 21 percent cutback in Part B will affect what the
doctors and the hospital is paid for all essential hospital
services such as routine daily physician bedside visits and
care, pathology services, anesthetics, surgical procedures
and radiological diagnoses, to name only a few.

If the hospital is forced to close its doors?

Mr. Fields predicts a domino effect. There will be a loss
of jobs in a county where the number one industry is health
care, a loss of residents in nursing facilities in the
communities of Meridian, Clifton and Valley Mills - the
second largest source of employment - and no local access to
emergency and trauma care.

What would the district have cost taxpayers?

On a property assessed at $50,000, at a rate of .10 per
$100, the approximate monthly cost would have been $4.20.

This would compare to tax rates in neighboring counties of
.25 in Comanche, .164 in Hamilton, and .1534 in South

All current property tax exemptions for homestead, veterans,
agricultural use, wildlife and over 65 would still apply.
Those who are over 65 would qualify for a "ceiling" that
limits the school districts of the county to the amount of
tax the property owner paid in the year they qualified for
the exemption, but does not apply to the hospital district.

The board of the district would have consisted of four
members with an at-large member, to be appointed for
staggered terms until the next May election when two would
have been replaced or retained according to voter

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Averitt Not Truly Gone - He Still Holds The Cards

Sole nominee in Dist. 22, he could be elected by default

Check the logic.

Senator Kip Averitt is a sick man. He's too sick to serve
in the Texas Senate. He said so - after he filed for the
nomination. He resigned his seat in the Senate - for the
current term.

But, according to Dr. Tom Bratcher, Bosque County Republican
Chairman, he's not too sick to hold the cards as to who will
succeed him after his unexpired term has expired.

He has not resigned, not really. He is still the only
candidate for election to the next term, an event that will
take place on Nov. 2 in the General Election.

True, Governor Rick Perry called a Special Election to fill
that seat until the present term expires. It will take
place on June 22. Early voting began yesterday.

Your choice is between former Senator David Sibley and Lt.
Col. Brian Birdwell, a retired Army officer who was horribly
burned in the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. He holds the
Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star for his service in Desert
Storm, and a Purple Heart.

Senator Sibley is a lobbyist who has represented 11 power
companies, one of the largest insurance carriers in the
state and numerous trade associations associated with
communications, insurance, electrical power and medical and
dental matters - as well as trial lawyers. Let's not forget
the trial lawyers.

Now, Senator Averitt faces a deadline to either resign his
nomination and allow the Democratic and Republican County
Chairmen to name candidates to be placed on the ballot.

If he allows that deadline, which is on a fast approaching day
in August, to pass, he will be elected by default, according
to Dr. Bratcher, a math professor at Baylor University who
supervises doctoral candidates specializing in statistics.

One is tempted to ask him to calculate the odds of that

Strange. But there it is.

His words are almost unbelievable. Just about the time you
think you have this one figured out, you find a new twist.

"Averitt has not resigned, so Averitt is on the ticket and
may run in November," says Dr. Bratcher.

"He is the only candidate."


Let's not go there.

"If he resigns before the date in August, then we County
Chairmen will be called on to name alternative candidates
for another Special Election."

Is it any wonder that the Senate District 22 Caucus bowed up
to the party establishment - such luminaries as McLennan
County Chairman Joe B. Hinton and former Texas
Representative and County Chairman M.A. Taylor, and elected
a committeeman and committeewoman of their own choosing in
Janet Jackson of Clifton and Jimmie Kerr of Waco?

Said Dr. Bratcher, "We revolted. What we're doing is we're
trying to make this process more responsive to the
people, from the grass roots up - and not the top down.

"Obama and the liberals have brought in a new paradigm with
their socialist government. We need to be more responsive
to the people.

"The people of the hierarchy need to be more responsive to
the people, and not just trying to stay in power...We
rejected the old way and we're embracing a new approach to
doing things."

He and the county's full complement of 9 delegates
took a full crew of alternate delegates to Dallas for the
State Convention last week and made sure, through various
committees, including the Rules Committee, that they
understand where they are going with all this.

Knowledgeable sources say the reason the wheels from Waco
didn't show up on the convention floor or in the caucus room
is that they knew they'd been beat.

Bosque County wasn't alone. They were joined by delegates
from the other 9 counties in the district.

Said Jimmie Kerr, "I talked to the new State Chairman. He
told me whatever I need, he will help me get it."

Governor Perry gave him the high sign, too, he said.

His first order of business will to be arrange a sit-down
with Joe B. Hinton to discover the true facts and figures of
which precincts are represented by the Republican Party and
which are not.

"He needs to work with me," said Mr. Kerr. "I was elected
by the people of 10 counties, not just one."

He defeated Waco attorney Chris DeCluitt by a resounding 20
votes in the caucus fight.

Still, knowledgeable sources insist that the strategy of the
Republican establishment is to place severe limits on the
numbers of convention delegates available in order to have a
greater element of control over what will happen when it
comes time to make nominations and get out the vote.

It's not so much a matter of numbers, but of which numbers
are more desirable. The question is not so much if - as it
is on the golf course in getting the ball up and down - but

The new regime doesn't see it that way.

They think they're in an all-out fight with the liberal
elements of American politics to control what happens next
in the U.S.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

DeCluitt, BRA Probed by SEC On Possum Kingdom Bonds

Federal complaint of misfeasance hounds Waco Lawyer

Brazos River Authority Board Chairman Chris DeCluitt and the
BRA are the subject of a federal probe into allegations of
mismanagement and misfeasance in the issuance of bonds to
maintain the Possum Kingdom hydroelectric dam.

According to Darren Yancy, defeated candidate for the seat
of District 22 Senator Kip Averitt, "The SEC contacted me in
March and asked for my files. To date, this is still under

The probe focuses on some $3.8 million in bond funds that
went unspent for improvements to the penstocks and
hydroelectric generators at the Morris Sheppard Dam at
Possum Kingdom Lake pending the outcome of a dispute with
Brazos Electrical Co-Op to furnish a half million dollars
worth of electrical power yearly in that company's plan to
acquire the facility.

At the time, BRA made a decision to shut down the
hydroelectric power project, which went on-line in 1942,
because of trepidations that the maintenance of the project
would not be cost effective. This was in spite of the fact
that the Federal Electrical Power Commission had issued an
operating permit and the project has never failed an

That decision by BRA removed 25 megavolts of clean, renewable
electrical from the power grid.

In fact, the inspector wrote a glowing report on the good
condition of the generating facility and attached it to his
approval of the operating permit.

The bond issue was in 2005 and BEPC filed suit more than two
years later in the 414th State District Court in Waco for
breach of contract in multimillions of dollars of damages.

"It is a violation of securities and exchange law to issue a
bond and not spend the money," said Mr. Yancy today.

Mr. DeCluitt asserted and corroborated all this in a
statement that appeared on the BRA website in March.

He is fresh from a solid defeat of his incumbent post in the
State Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Local
refuse hauler Jimmie Kerr received at least 20 more votes
from delegates to the caucus at the State Republican
Convention than did Mr. DeCluitt.

That is seen by many knowledgeable GOP insiders as a
repudiation of Mr. DeCluitt's "Keep Kip" campaign that
resulted in the re-nomination of Senator Averitt in spite of
his resignation of his Senatorial post and his assertion
that his health will not allow him to continue in public
office. That resulted in a special election for his
unexpired term, the run-off for which is slated for June 22
and for which early voting begins today between lobbyist and
former Senator David Sibley and retired Lt. Col. Brian

At the time Mr. DeCluitt launched the "Keep Kip" movement,
Mr. Sibley was the lobbyist for the BRA and 11 electrical
power companies, operating from his Austin law firm.

He has since then dissolved all corporate relations with
former clients.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Choice: 9/11 Hero, Lobbyist, is Stark, Crystal Clear

Birdwell, Sibley, a contrast between GOP, Southern Demos

A man on a fixed income opens his TXU electric bill to find
that his rate has gone up from a dime per KW/hr to 14 cents.

Under the averaging plan he had been on, his monthly bill
will now be slightly more than $200, where before it had
been a little less than $140.

What to do?

He shops for a better rate, as former State Senator David
Sibley has suggested at numerous candidate forums during the
long campaign to fill the unexpired term of State Senator
Kip Averitt.

Ignite Energy offers a return to the rate of .10 and he
signs up.

The resulting final bill from TXU is shocking.

It's $637, which includes a $200 disconnection "fee," more
than $400 in "differential" compensation for the averaging
plan, and a true electric bill of slightly less than $100.

What to do?

TXU offers to waive the $200 disconnection fee if he will
return to the fold and works out an installment payment plan
for the remaining bill of more than $500.

Such a deal!

As a consumer, if he's late on his payment to TXU, the
credit bureau will put in a blip on his record, something
that will automatically trigger higher auto and homeowner
insurance rates, higher interest on note payments on secured
and unsecured debt, and affect his financial posture for
years to come.

David Sibley engineered the system of deregulation that
allows these practices during his 11-year tenure in the
Senate. As a lobbyist, he represented 11 power companies,
including TXU.

He has told consumers, including his Democratic opponent,
Baylor Political Science Professor Dr. Gayle Avant, that if
they will shop, they can find rates of about .08. That's
what he pays at his Austin home.

The glitch in that argument is that he obtains his
electricity from a co-op and no one can select a co-op such
as Pedernales Electric or Brazos Electric unless they live
in the co-op service area. It's not an option.

As with the telephone deregulation scheme he worked out, Mr.
Sibley defends his record by saying that he rescued the
consumers from the clutches of the monopoly. In the case of
telephone deregulation, the bill netted the State of Texas a
huge windfall in the form of the Telephone Interchange
Franchise Fee, which accounts for almost half of phone rates
on land line and cell calls.

Mr. Sibley has told the story of his appearance at a Rotary
luncheon in Hillsboro, where conservative Southern Democrat
Will Bond, a scion of a pioneer hardware, insurance and real
estate family, asked to make a remark or two before Mr.
Sibley gave his pitch as a Senatorial candidate.

It is well known that Lt. Governor Bobby Bullock was raised
in Mr. Bond's home following the breakup of his parents'
marriage. He was a political protege of Mr. Bond, who
served on various state commissions as an appointee of
several conservative Democrat governors.

"This is Bobby's man," is all he said. It was all he had to
say to the conservative Southern Democrats there assembled.

"And I won the Hill County vote by something like 60
percent," Mr. Sibley has recalled.

In another often recalled piece of political lore, Mr.
Sibley figures in the tale of the lost weekend he and five
other State Senators spent locked up in the Lt. Governor's
private apartment behind the President's Rostrum in the
Senate chamber. They were told no one got out of there
alive until they arrived at a compromise legislation in the
reform of Worker's Compensation coverage.

Mr. Bullock often told people that Mr. Sibley was the best
man he ever worked with in the Legislature.

In various insurance deregulation bills introduced or co-
sponsored by Mr. Sibley, carriers have been granted the
right to pass through costs of unprofitable investments to
consumers, something that has driven the rates sky high, as
high as any in the nation.

Mr. Sibley's lobbying practice included representation of
insurance carrier State Farm, which applied for and got two
insurance rate hikes on homeowners policies in the same

Finally, the Brazos River Authority, which he represented as
a lobbyist before he decided to run for the unexpired term
of Senator Kip Averitt, who as a State Reprentative often
wrote House versions of insurance and electrical
deregulation bills Senator Sibley authored, took the Possum
Kingdom hydroelectric power station off the grid by shutting
down the sluice gates and penstocks.

This deprived the customers of the Brazos River Electric Co-
Op of electrical power their organization had negotiated to
purchase for $500,000 per year and immediately removed 24
megavolts of green, environmentally clean, renewable energy
from the power grid. It will be replaced, presumably, by
coal-fired plants and the addition of two new TXU nuclear
power plants at Glen Rose.

This is the subject of a lawsuit to be decided in the 414th
District Court in Waco.

The Authority's Board Chairman, Chris DeCluitt, who with Mr.
Sibley spurred the "Keep Kip" campaign which resulted in the
veteran Senator's re-nomination when he really did not wish
to serve, told people he made the decision because it's not
economically feasible to maintain the electrical power
generators that first went on line in 1942 and have been
approved by the Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission
without a hitch since then.

Mr. DeCluitt, an attorney, lost his seat on the State
Republican Executive Committee to Waco refuse hauler Jimmie
Kerr by more than 20 votes in the Senate District 22 caucus
yesterday afternoon at the Texas Republican Convention in

This could be a bellwether indicator of whither goest the
Senate District in the runoff election.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell of Granbury, a
town hard hit by the BRA's decision to shut down Possum
Kingdom's sluice gates, garnered slightly more than 10,000
votes in the primary, the first runner up to Mr. Sibley's
16,000 votes, forcing a runoff for the nomination between
the two on June 22.

He has pointed out that Texas Ethics Commission records
indicate that Mr. Sibley has made numerous contributions to
"liberal" Democratic candidates during his tenure as a

Badly burned in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Col.
Birdwell is stumping the 10-county area with a pitch for
fiscal responsibility, pro-life, "jobs and economic
prosperity," the second amendment, "standing up for the
constitution" and a State of Texas defense inititative
against illegal immigration.

He is endorsed by Dallas GOP luminary Bill Crocker, the
Republican National Committeeman for Texas.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Two Named To GOP Committe Often Oppose Brass

Delegates skipped District 22 caucus, TEA Party alternates the key

Top ranking Senate District 22 Republicans ladled their
approval on two operatives originally viewed as upstarts by
long-term McLennan County GOP stalwarts.

In a repudiation of the politics of exclusion, County
Republican Chairmen and delegates to the Republican State
Convention elected Jimmie Kerr and Janet Jackson to the
State Republican Executive Committee Saturday afternoon.

Their election was confirmed by the Rules Committee and
the convention approved their placement in the 62-member
Senate District 22 State Repubican Executive Committee.

They reportedly shut out the other two announced candidates,
Waco attorney Chris DeCluitt and Molly Smith, the daughter
of a two-term committeewoman from McLennan County, by an
estimated 20 votes each.

According to party executives, such nominations are
considered all but an assured ticket to being named later to
the committee by the State Chairman.

Over the past year, Mrs. Jackson has toured the 10-county
District training prospective precinct chairmen how to gain
election to that post, how to get out the vote by
registering new electors, and signing up those who can't
make it to the polls as absentee or early voters.

She has helped lay the groundwork for Hispanic Republican
clubs in more than half the counties affected.

Mr. Kerr has helped sign up a large number of precinct
chairmen in McLennan County.

Both have accused party chairmen and other powerful
functionaries in McLennan and Bosque Counties of ignoring
requests for information and the proper forms for filing for
election to the all-important precinct chairmanships.

In some cases, they have both alleged, the county chairmen
have merely entered the names of the election judges
appointed to run the precinct contests as candidates for
Precinct chairman.

Most delegates to the convention were reported to have
eschewed the Senate District caucus and allowed alternate
delegates, many of whom are TEA Party activists, to step in
and cast their votes for the pair, both of whom were
instrumental in the formation of the Hispanic Republican
Club of McLennan County.

McLennan is considered the swing county in the district with
91 voting precincts and the largest population of any of the
10-county area.

In an interesting side note, McLennan County Republican Chair-
man Joe B. Hinton, the retired Exxon-Mobil Vice President for
Europe, did not attend the executive committee caucus.

His long-time associate, former County Chairman and multi-term
Texas State Representative M.A. Taylor and his wife Virginia
did not attend, either, according to sources who were in the

Friday, June 11, 2010

Crude Coating Sea Birds And Sugary Beaches Is Ours

After more than 40 days and 40 nights, disaster hits home

Americans are starting to snap that it's their oil gushing
out of that hole in the floor of the Gulf.

Like Walter Cronkite's running tally on the number of days
the Iranian hostage crisis had gone on, the CNN shot of the
oil spewing out of the well is starting to make an
impression on people.

Yes, British Petroleum acquired the property, and yes,
Transocean furnished the rig, but - hey - the oil belongs to
the People of the United States of America.

It's their property.

How much of their property has spewed out into the
environment? BP seems to estimate a lot less than what the
amount claimed by the government and scientists consulted by
such luminaries as The Wall Street Journal, The Discovery
Channel and other major media outlets.

Suddenly, the pendulum starts to swing, the shift is
profound and so-called liberal causes don't look so liberal
any more. Could it be that long-held "conservative core
values" are starting to "go with the flow," to change with
the flow of crude coating the Gulf Coast?


Media Matters released the following statement attacking Fox
News from a law office in Washington, D.C., just yesterday.

"Over the long fight for health care reform, Fox News has
been a constant source of misinformation, distraction, and
smears. We at Media Matters for America have spent more than
a year cataloguing and correcting the errors and lies that
have come from both the 'opinion' side and the 'news' side
of Fox's programming.

"In the past year, Fox News has shown that it is not a news
network, it's a political operation. And it threw every
tactic and every lie it had against health insurance reform.

"In its attempt to 'kill the bill,' Fox failed, thanks in
part to the work Media Matters did in refuting Fox's lies
and exposing its agenda. We'll keep up this fight on all the
issues that matter to this country -- and you can help.

"Here are just a few of the ways Fox News lied, misled, and
whipped up anti-health care activism over the past year:

"Promoting terrifying myths about 'death panels,'
euthanasia, abortion, 'government takeovers,' and doctors
quitting the profession

"Advancing false claims about the bill's cost, deficit
impact, CBO score, and tax impact

"Reporting inaccurate claims of 'corruption,' 'special
deals,' and rule-breaking in the legislative process

"Allowing hosts and contributors such as Mike Huckabee,
Glenn Beck, and Dick Morris to promote campaigns to call
members of Congress in opposition to reform."

The press release calls for donations, as do those issued by
conservative candidates for office, and says it was
sponsored by the law firm of Kazan, McLain, Lyons, Greenwood
& Harley, P.L.C., KazanLaw.com

Similarly, the Department of Health & Human Services sent
out a mass mailing to Medicare recipients recently.

A glossy piece, it points out the views of Kathleen
Sebelius, Secretaryof Health & Human Services, that
ObamaCare will guarantee more affordable prescription drugs;
improvements to the Medicare Advantage Plan; better access
to care and better chronic care, as well as improvements to
long-term care choices, a guarantee of medical care for
people with pre-existing conditions and an expansion of
health care for younger people.

Congressman Chet Edwards mailed a slick campaign collateral
detailing his opposition to the Affordable Care Act of 2010
and why he voted against it.

He listed massive federal deficit spending, a pending
reduction of 21 percent to the fees doctors are paid to see
Medicare patients and a ban on re-importation of
prescription pharmaceuticals from Canada and Mexico.

Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and Gun
Owners of America sent interested subscribers a notice
warning of H.R. 5175, sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-
Md) and co-sponsored by 114 other Representatives.

The proposed legislation would require gun advocacy groups
to turn over the names of contributors who sponsor their
electioneering announcements and lengthens the period from
60 days before an election to 120 as the time considered to
be political campaigning for an election.

It is termed by the lobbying organization as a bid to
require that the advocates turn over lists of their
membership as well as spend as much as half of a 30-second
political spot airing government disclosure statments.

The title of the bill: "Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting
Light on Spending in Elections Act."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Border War Here, Now - "Ain't No Time To Wait"

El Paso killing of a kid not the first of many skirmishes

"...a time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones
together..." - Ecclesiastes


Look to your feet. The Earth is filled with them,
especially at the border areas, the rivers, the deserts, the
mountain passes, the swamps, the beaches.


They are deadly in the hands of an adolescent human male, an
individual whose eyesight is as sharp as it will ever be,
whose upper body strength and reactions are as precisely
focused and honed as his Maker intended.

In his arsenal, he lacks only one thing - experience. His
judgment is flawed by the fact that since nothing wrong has
ever happened to him, then he assumes nothing will. His
bravery centers upon his ignorance.

If his father is far away working for the Yanqui dollar in
the Land of the Big PX, then there is no one to attenuate
his ignorance, no check upon what he will do.

There is no bar mitzvah, no great work or ceremony of
acculturation into the greater society. He is allowed to
remain in his adolescent warrior association with other
little fellows as ignorant as he.

His weapons are as free as the stones at his feet.

Sometimes, the terrain itself is a weapon.

Withdraw and go to the redoubts that you, the defender, know
so well. Let the enemy attempt to penetrate against the
tactics of retreating before conditions of thirst, of
hunger, exposure to cold, extreme heat, mosquitos, snakes.

There are vast areas enforested with stunted and thorned
trees that provide no real shade, huge clumps of cactus
impenetrable as coral reefs - and no drinking water anywhere
in sight.

The problem. Uncontrolled, illegal immigration.

How is it done? Border Patrol Agents are so overwhelmed at
choke points such as El Paso and San Diego that they are
helpless against waves of humanity, throngs of people who
dash across a river only inches deep and charge across
freeways crowded with cars and trucks after others have
created distractions further downriver by hurling stones at
agents on patrol.

After all, one must retreat in the face of a shower of fist-
sized rocks, no matter how well-armed an assault force of
armored defenders may be.

Fire into the crowd of your attackers, adolescent boys each
and every one, and suddenly, you are a murderer and not a
government agent enforcing the law.

That's when the vox populi opens its throat and roars long
and loud, galvanizing opinion and motivating people to take
a hard stand, where before they were unconcerned, oblivious,
content to be that way.

Last Monday, the ongoing conflict at El Paso Del Norte led
to confrontation between the Federales of Mexico and
American Border Patrol Agents who stood on both sides of the
river and aimed their automatic weapons at each other.

As they always said in the school yards, one was scared and
the other was glad of it.

Is this anything new?

Absolutely not. Read your Bible.

There was a time well chronicled in the holy lore of
Christianity when an occupied nation sent young boys against
an armored invader with the best and most sophisticated
weapons system available at the time.

The place was named Israel and the occupying army consisted
of the columns of the troops of the Legions of Rome.

How long did it take to subdue those Israelite boys?

Merely 80 years, give or take a decade or two.

That's all. Just a century, or so.

If the Bible does not satisfy your curiosity, then read the
Roman scribes who wrote the first edition of that particular
part of history. They will be glad to tell you what kind of
hassle it was.

Is it over?

Not on your life. It's nowhere near over. Don't take any
bets on that. The Palestinians still employ the same
tactics against the modern Israel Defense Force.

Was it the first time they fought against an occupier using
the stones to be gathered at their feet?


Read up on the shepherd boy, David, who slew the giant
Philistine Goliath in single warrior combat.

You have a problem on your hands. A corrupt, drug-fueled
economy is sending rock-slinging commandos against your
professional troopers at border choke points where refugees
and illicit drugs cross your borders.

Know your enemy. He still has acne and he's growing so fast
that sometimes the bones in his legs and arms ache because
of it.

He lives on adrenaline and he doesn't know exactly what he
wants or how to go about getting it.

He just knows that you are his enemy and he wants what you

He's an extremely loyal enemy.

Demonize him at your peril.

Defend yourself or he will take all you have.

Sorry about that.

And who wrote those immortal words about the stones?
Solomon, son of David, wrote the homily known as

He had the same problems on his hands, but the hands were
not bloody, so he was elected to build a temple using the
treasure claimed by his father, the shepherd boy with the
stones to fight the invader.

The war is here.

The time is now.

The war is always here.

The time is always now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Party Line - A Microscopic View Of The Social Network

...There was music in the cafes at night and revolution in
the air...
- Bob Dylan, "Tangled Up In Blue"

The voices are soft, attenuated. They come at you from what
seems like a distance, crackling and spitting electronic
sounds, like an old-time party line in the midst of a
prairie blizzard or the static bursts of an amateur radio
broadcast during a period of sun spot disturbances.

Social networking.

It's nothing particularly new. After all, there were party
lines, HAM radio, coffee shops - jungle drums.

That's why it's like running across a trunk full of old
sepia-toned photos of people you know perfectly well, but
see for the first time and for the first time only when you
join a conference call or log on to a political FaceBook or
Twitter account.

The four announced candidates for the two State Senate
District 22 slots on the Republican Party's Executive
Committee made an appearance on a conference call sponsored
by the Blue Collar Republican Club of McLennan County last

When The Legendary logged on - late, fresh from a hasty
dinner - incumbent committeman Chris DeCluitt was speaking
at length about his vision for the GOP in this time of plans
to take back the U.S. government and forge new alliances
with new friends who can help do that, Republican style.

A Waco attorney, Board Chairman of the Brazos River
Authority, campaign manager for such party luminaries as
District Judge Vicki Menard, Mr. DeCluitt is a well-known
and experienced establishment player who is known to get

He fielded a question from Hispanic GOP acitivist Duke

"What are your views of the Hispanic movement in the
Republican Party?"

Mr. Machado is a Ford Motor Company sales executive,
President of the McLennan County Hispanic Republican Club
and the district-wide GOPisForMe.com website.

His organizations have fielded two candidates for the
committee, Jimmie Kerr, a refuse hauler who has vowed to
increase the number of precincts with GOP party apparatus
present by huge percentage points, and Janet Jackson, a
Clifton activist and realtor, who helped co-found the
Hispanic Republican Club.

Mr. DeCluitt didn't miss a beat.

"You know, Duke, under federal guidelines, my last name is
considered Hispanic..."

He continued to speak of his strategy - one he shares with
the core cadre of state party leadership - of attracting new
voters - people who have never before registered or voted -
to cross over from their traditional attraction to
Democratic Party ranks and support a GOP Congressional
candidate who can defeat 10-term Representative Chet
Edwards, (D-Waco).

If they can't defeat Chet, they can't take back the House of
Representatives with its purse strings authority and its
ultra-liberal leadership in Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The solution? Attract new voters who have never before
registered and persuade them to vote for a change in
national policies.

It's a heady assignment and it's going to be a long, hot

Here's where the rubber meets the road, where Baylor Law
shakes hands with the management of the car lot.

There have been dust-ups and scrapes, some of them
prominently publicized in the local conservative daily, The
Waco "Tribune-Herald."

In fact, the local Hispanic club is starting to gain
recognition in other areas of the state, attracting ink in
The Ft. Worth "Star-Telegram" and The Austin "American-

Mr. Machado's stance borders on the militant - with a twist.
He knows that the Hispanic voter will soon be representing
the majority population of the state. Some demographers say
it will happen within the coming decade.

His attitudes are surprising to some. He insists that
Hispanics will never get anywhere unless they speak and read
English fluently. Nothing else will do. In fact, in the
home his grandparents made for him at San Marcos, the kids
were not allowed to speak anything but English. Stay in
school was the rule. Hard work and only hard work will cure
your problems.

In a follow-up question, he quizzes Mr. DeCluitt about some
other aspect of the establishment's approach to the coming
shift in the numbers, and he is interrupted - politely -
with this rejoinder.

"You know, Duke, relations between us have not always been

There it is.

It's out in the open, the thing everyone is aware of and yet
no one speaks of openly.

The discussion began to loosen up, the stilted tones began
to go away and were replaced with the kind of nuts and bolts
dialogue that turns elections one way or the other.

Jimmie Kerr said that though he was not in particularly good
odor at County Republican Party Headquarters, it doesn't
really matter.

His goal is to continue to sign up people to be Precinct
Chairmen, to continue to build party apparatus, deputy voter
registrars, phone talkers, sign installers, poll
transportation types, those who will take early and absentee
voting applications to those who don't understand, help them
get the paperwork filled out and turned in, then take them
to the polls if necessary.

"I don't care what they think about it out there on
Lakeshore Drive. It doesn't really matter."

What matters most to Jimmie Kerr is that of 91 voting
precincts in McLennan County, only a few of them have
Republican Chairmen.

"If you think Chet's people don't know this, you're wrong."

Janet Jackson recounted her busy season traveling with a
projector, a sound system and a two-hour presentation that
educates voters, the kind who volunteer, in the precise
politics and all the neat structural dovetails and joints of
the carpentry that goes into the party's platform, its
rules, the election code and the way it all fits together.

They have established new Hispanic Repubican Clubs in
Brazos, Navarro, Ellis, Johnson and Hood Counties. They are
in the exploratory stages in talking with operatives in Leon
and Somervell Counties.

That's way more than half the 10 counties in this State
Senate District.

As the hour wore on, there were intense question and answer
exchanges between the candidates, Molly Smith, Janet
Jackson, Chris DeCluitt and Jimmie Kerr.

Ms. Smith's mother and father contend that they started the
GOP in McLennan County, something that is contested by at
least one rival.

Her mother served on the Executive Committee for a couple of

About 15 listeners hammered them with questions under the
moderation of TEA Party activist Toby Marie Walker.

In the last analysis, State Vice Chairman Robin Armstrong
set the record straight on exactly how the rules operate,
the nomination procedures and the way the State Republican
Convention at Dallas will proceed this weekend.

Nominations for the Executive Committee will be made at the
District Caucus after the first General Session of the
Convention, about 4 p.m., give or take.

Nominations may be made from the floor in addition to the
announced candidacies of the four who appeared on the party
line last night. Only those who are delegated to the
convention may vote in the caucus, but anyone may attend the

It's going to be quite a show, from the bottom to the top,
the top to the bottom. State Party chairmanship is just as
hotly contested as the Executive Committee slots - one each
for a man and a woman from the state's 31 Senatorial

The only thing in the middle of the road is a dead armadillo
and The Legendary anticipates nothing less than blood and
feathers on the floor.

It's a sea change on the bed of an ancient ocean - the Texas
prairie. A real shoot-out on the plantation. Big D, little
a, double...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Anatomy Of A Blow-Out: BP Made Fateful Decision

Tests showed blowout preventer was unsafe, inoperative

Though pressure tests showed an alarming imbalance between
the well head and the "kill" and "choke" lines that actuate
the blowout preventer, a British Petroleum executive ordered
all operations to resume on Earth Day aboard the Deepwater

Though accounts vary widely, it is clear that not much time
went by before the disaster claimed 11 lives and resulted
in the loss of the $435 million semi-submersible rig.

The decision caused natural gas to spew casing pipe, cement,
and mud out of the hole and the gas propelling it ignited in
a fireball that two days later sank the huge drilling rig in
water a mile deep.

Halliburton crews had just finished pumping cement into the
hole to prevent the natural gas from blowing the petroleum
well out.

A Cameron Iron Works blowout preventer that is designed to
use hydraulic rams to operate giant shears that cut off the
drill pipe and seal the hole failed to work because of a
previously detected hydraulic leak and furthermore because
the two adjunct lines, the "kill" and "choke" lines showed
zero pounds per square inch pressure while the pressure in
the main hole was a whopping 1,400 p.s.i.

The BP executive elected to proceed, even though a second
test showed the same results, according to Halliburton
executive Tim Probert.

Before a hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy
Committee, James Dupree, BP senior vice president for the
Gulf of Mexico, said, "There was something happening in the
well bore that shouldn't be happening"

According to Representative Bart Stupak, (D-Mich), "The
blowout preventer apparently had a significant leak...This
leak was found in the hydraulic system that provides
emergency power to the shear rams, which are the devices
that are supposed to cut the drill pipe and seal the well."

Pressures should be the same on all three lines, Mr. Dupree
testified earlier.

Because of this, the blowout preventer could not function
because the two adjunct lines power the emergency system.

If they are filled with seawater, they merely equalize the
ambient pressure and do nothing to cause the hydraulic rams
to actuate.

Under the terms of an emergency plan filed with the
government, "BP, one of the largest oil companies, assured
Congress and the public that it could operate safely in deep
water and that a major oil spill was next to impossible,"
said Chairman Henry Waxman, (D-CA.).

"We now know those assurances were wrong."

Where did things go wrong?

Many are pointing to the terms of a controversial energy
plan worked out with petroleum producers by former
Halliburton World Services CEO and U.S. Vice President Dick

The Bush Administration refused to divulge the terms of the
energy plan for several years, eventually obtaining
injunctive protection from the U.S. Supreme Court to assure
its confidentiality.

Apparently, part of that energy plan calls for a
"categorical exclusion" to EPA requirements for
environmental analyses, an exemption disclosed by the Center
for Biological Diversity in a recent press release.

The organization has categorized this exemptive process as

It is unclear if they intend to litigate.

In any case, since its recent merger with its chief rival,
GlobalSantaFe, in an $18 billion deal, records maintained by
the U.S. Minerals Management Service has shown a marked

Of 33 such incidents, Transocean operations have accounted
for 24, or 73 percent. It owns fewer than half the Gulf of
Mexico rigs operating in more than 3,000 feet of water.

BP Refinery Long Considered A Health Hazard

Fires, explosions have rocked the plant for many years

The Galveston County Health Department considered British
Petroleum's Texas City refinery safety record so hazardous
it issued a health advisory bulletin for local residents.

In March 2005, a half decade before the disastrous Earth Day
blowout and sinking of Deepwater Horizon off the Louisiana
coast, an explosion in the isomerization unit left 14
workers dead and at least 100 injured.

Authorities closed the Houston Ship Channel and adjacent
roads and declared a health emergency in the area, causing
the 30,000 residents who live in the immediate 3-mile radius
to be ordered to remain indoors until the all-clear was
given several hours later, after the fires had been

The isomerization unit consists primarily of a fluid
catalytic cracking tower which, through distillation, alters
the "straight chain" molecular structure of petroleum,
lightens it, and makes its boiling point much lower in
temperature. It's the first process in making higher octane
motor fuel compounds such as gasoline.

From this process, other, even more toxic compounds are
formed - naptha, benzene, kerosene - that are equally
hazardous to health due to their extreme volatility and
harsh effects on the central nervous and respiratory
systems. Many of these have been determined to be

At 1:20 p.m. on a Wednesday, a safety expansion chamber
overflowed, spilling extremely flammable "feedstock" into a
containment area protected by a berm around the cracking
unit. The catalytic converter on a pickup truck parked
nearby, its engine left running, ignited the fumes and the
entire apparatus exploded, propelling flame and toxic gases
thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

At the time, BP officials claimed no pollution or hazardous
chemicals were released into the atmosphere.

The site of many previous accidents, according to the Health
Department, BP's plant covers 1,200 acres, employs 2,000
workers, produces 3 percent of the U.S. gasoline supply and
processes 460,000 barrels of crude oil each day.

At the time, environmental authorities ranked the refinery
the 8th largest polluter in the U.S., estimating that it
spews about 5.1 million pounds of pollutants into the
atmosphere each year.

There were a long series of accidents leading up to the
explosion, including:

* a March, 2004, accident that killed two workers;

* a 2005 leak that caused no injuries, but several fires;

* and an August 2000 fire that erupted at the refinery.

In each case, OSHA and EPA officials levied stiff fines for
safety violations.