Monday, September 30, 2013

AG rejects Sheriff's refusal of info on jail death

Custodial death report to be released

Bulletin: A spokesman at the Sheriff's Office said at 10 a.m. on Monday, September 30, they have no record of a public information act request. “I can't find find the request,” she said, after going through several files.

You can file an information request. We will have ten days to seek an AG's opinion,” said Kelly Olson, who was taking over for the day for Sharon Wilson, whom, she said, is the custodian of record for the Bosque County Sheriff's Office.

Meridian, TX – A blanket denial of information regarding a matter under investigation by law enforcement is not legal, according to an Attorney General's Opinion released late last week.

County Attorney Natalie Koehler sought the advice of the Texas Association of Counties, who referred her to a Tyler attorney named Robert S. Davis.

Mr. Davis requested an opinion from the AG's office, a near-standard practice by Texas public officials who do not wish to release information. They say – routinely - that they have 10 days to respond.

Mr. Conyer began by informing the attorney retained by Bosque County that “ acknowledge, the sheriff's office did not comply with its ten-business-day deadline under Texas Government Code Section 552.301(b) of the Government Code,” and that “the sheriff's office did not comply with its fifteen-business-day deadline under Section 552.301(e)...”

He added, “When a governmental body fails to comply with the procedural requirements of (the law), the information at issue is presumed public and must be released unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.” He listed numerous cases as an authority.

The sheriff's office refused to release certain information regarding Ms. Troyn's demise because officials believe it describes her medical condition, which, they held, is a subject of federally protected privacy. Mr. Conyer disagreed, saying that only applies as to that privileged information which consists of “an individual's protected health information...(which) includes any information that reflects that an individual received health care from the covered entity.” She received no health care while in custodial detention.

You do not inform us the sheriff's office is a covered entity...”

Information at issue “includes a custodial death report” that is required to be sent to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. A standard form of the Office of the Attorney General, it is a 4-page questionnaire consisting of extremely detailed inquiries, such as the date and time of arrest; the date and time the person was placed in custody or incarceration; the date and time of death; where the event that caused the death occurred; the manner of death; what type of treatment the deceased had received; if there were injuries, how the the deceased received them – from officers, other inmates, people with whom they had a dispute; had the deceased been receiving treatment for the medical condition after admission to the jail's jurisdiction; did the deceased at any time threaten the officers, fight or attempt to flee from custody; what type of custody/facility was the offender in/at prior to the time of death; the specific type of custody/facility; and an additional, optional space in which to attach remarks.

Although the matter is under investigation by both the department and by Texas Ranger Jim Hatfield, the law “does not except from disclosure 'basic information about an arrested person, an arrest, or a crime...'” He added that the law refers to “the basic front-page offense and arrest information held to be public in Houston Chronicle Publishing Co. v. City of Houston, 531 S.W. 2d 186-88.

An experienced criminal investigator named R.S. Gates, who retains his Texas Peace Officer's Certification, helped prepare the Public Information Request. At the time, he said he thought public officials' withholding the information could be prosecuted as a crime, under the provisions of the statute.

He is now convinced the opinion he formed at the time is correct.

I want it all,” he said. “I submitted a written request for it almost four months ago. I plan to continue my request for the information that the statute says I can have. The statute says that this information will be made promptly, and they dragged this out for almost four months.

It's not that the public is entitled to the information. The point is, the information belongs to the public. They (public officials) are merely the custodians. The only burden I have is, I have to want it. It already belongs to me.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

News tongue in cheek as house passes O-care defund

Washington – The House of Representatives passed a bill that is emblematic of the legislative gridlock prompted by Obamacare.

The law would delay implementation of the controversial health care program for one year, while at the same time paying the troops and paving the way to raise the nation's debt ceiling.

Senate Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid said that nevertheless, the law is DOA in the upper chamber, and the President said it faces automatic veto the minute it hits his desk.

In repealing a medical device tax, AP writers noted, the government will forego $29 billion in new revenue over the coming decade.

“By repealing the medical device tax, the GOP measure also would raise deficits — an irony for a party that won the House majority in 2010 by pledging to get the nation's finances under control.”

Conflicting reports on Obamacare, shutdown fight

Washington – The national media is sending mixed signals about Congressional actions leading to a dramatic showdown on Tuesday, October 1, over funding the government and implementing Obamacare.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department announced that if no rise in the national debt ceiling is authorized, the government will run out of cash on Oct. 17.

According to the Associated Press, House Republicans will on Tuesday unveil a new bill for preventing a government shutdown that would also delay implementing the rest of President Barack Obama's health care law for one year.

Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California said the new bill also would repeal a new tax on medical devices in the Affordable Care Act. Republicans will try to pass a bill that would get paychecks to members of the military on time if a shutdown occurs, said Rep. Nunes.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is on record saying the Senate will not pass any bill keeping the government open past Monday that would alter the health care law.

The “New York Times” quoted Sen. Reid, saying the two votes signal “the first step toward wresting control from the extremists. This is it. Time is gone. Here’s a president who less than a year ago won election by five million votes. Obamacare has been the law for four years. Why don’t they get a life and talk about something else?”

According to the “Times,” The Senate stopgap spending legislation to keep the federal government open without The Affordable Patient Protection Act of 2010 sounds like a done deal. Times writers said Speaker John A. Boehner is now under pressure to find “a way out of an impasse that had the government on a steady course to a shutdown at midnight Monday.”

Senators voted 54-44 to cut off debate on House legislation that would fund the government only if the new health law is eliminated, terming that “a bipartisan rebuke to Republican hard-liners.”

“The 79-to-19 vote included the top Republican leadership and easily exceeded the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster. It was followed by a 54-44 vote to take out the health law provision before passage.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Judges call high noon show down over jail costs

Waco – There's a new Sheriff in town, and the DA isn't making deals.

People accused of serious crimes get no plea bargain offers other than what the statute calls for if convicted by a jury trial.
The Jack Harwell Detention Center, Waco's private jail

Assault? 15 years. Burglary? Same same.

The DA is on record. “You pull a gun on somebody, I guarantee you. We're gonna dance,” he told a Republican Club meeting.

What happens? The accused are less than eager to plead out.

People who can't make bail sit in stir for the obligatory 90 days, and then their court-appointed attorney gets them released on their personal recognizance on a motion for a writ of habeas corpus.

McLennan County found itself in the unenviable position of ranking just slightly behind Rwanda (492) in its rate of incarceration of prisoners per 100,000 population - 480. Even worse, it's just slightly ahead of the Russian Federation, which sees fit to lock up 479 per 100,000 on any given day. That compares with some big, bad towns like Houston's Harris County at 218, Ft. Worth's Tarrant County at 179. True, Waco is behind the south Texas counties of Kenedy at 2,324 and McMullen County at 1,803, which outstrips its population of 851 by a huge percentage. Immigration woes near the Rio Grande can be pesky. No doubt.

Nothing strange about any of this, since the U.S. has an incarceration rate of 716, head and shoulders over Cuba at 510; and Texas locks up 632 per 100,000, in fourth place behind Louisiana at 865 and Mississippi and Alabama at 690 and 650, respectively.

Texas penitentiaries are hard time joints; the temperatures during summer months hover between 100 and 130 degrees, both night and day. Many defendants don't mind doing as much of their time as possible in an air conditioned county lockup near family, friends, and their lawyers.

It's also no surprise that all this is expensive.

As it turns out, the ministerial duty of holding inmates is a constitutional obligation of the Sheriff, acting in concert with what has been aptly described as the world's most benign form of anarchy, a well-tuned Texas Courthouse in the full-blown throes of the status quo. That is Latin for what a Texas Ranger once testified is “the mess we done got ourselves in now.”

When weekends come, the DWI crowd shows up to serve their time behind bars on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, and the resulting overflow goes next door to a privately operated, publicly financed lockup at the rate of $45.50 per day. In a recent year, that expense exceeded its budgeted allocation of $1 million by 300 percent. This year, it's a line item of $5.4 million, following a recent budget transfer of more than $800,000 in “contingency” funds.

When the Commissioners Court raised the tax rate by 5 cents in an attempt to keep up with the unsustainable financial equation, members of the Tea Party showed up for the second year in a row to say that elected officials had better start finding some solutions - if they like their jobs.

There is a pressure point, a place where there is a remedy to be found, and it's in the chambers of the county's seven judges.

They held two meetings on Wednesday, September 25. The first, at 8 a.m., was to consider budgeting more money to ankle bracelet monitoring for the non-violent offender serving time for minor drug cases and DWI. At $7 a day for the indigent and $8.50 a day for those who have jobs, 88 percent of 239 offenders successfully complied with the terms and conditions of probation. That includes wearing a monitor that can detect the use of drugs and alcohol.

According to an official of the company that furnishes and monitors the bracelets, this practice saved taxpayers an estimated $600,000 during fiscal year 2013.

The judges didn't stop there. They scheduled a high noon meeting to consider a brand new way of disposing of serious cases in a more timely, less expensive way.

Matt Johnson of the 54th District Court acted on a tip from two fellow district judges, Gary Coley, who hears chiefly juvenile cases, and Vicki Menard, who sits on civil matters, and consulted a Midland County judge.

In that west Texas regional banking and finance capital, a twin city to the petroleum production hub of Odessa, the judges acted on the same need and found a successful reduction in jail expenses.

It seems that in the Permian Basin, the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a speedy prosecution applies to the People of the State of Texas, as much as to the accused.

According to Judge Johnson, about 90 accused offenders have languished behind county bars for more than a year. For the record, even more have stalled for many months while on bail. In Midland, local judges found a solution by creating a special docket, one that dictates a final call for balky defendants – no matter what.

In a letter, he told his four fellow District Judges and two County Court-at-Law judges, “Before the date of trial the State and Defense would be given notice of the cases to be placed on this special docket. The cases would be set for a Final Docket Call in which a plea offer, if any, would be placed on the record and if no agreement was reached the case was set for a firm trial date.”

His former law partner, District Attorney Abel Reyna, campaigned on the notion that he would take the fight against crime to the courts, that the main problem would be “finding a court to try the cases.”

No problem, according to Judge Johnson.

On trial days, the 19th (criminal) Court and the 54th (criminal) Court, in full cooperation and with the approval of each judge, could send a felony case to a participating district court and/or County Court-at-Law. That would potentially give us 6 or 7 courts available for trial on selected weeks.”

What about defense attorneys who don't want to go along to get along?

There's a rumor going around. The judges are in charge of who gets appointed to defend which case, and attorneys are bound by ethics laws to act in the best interest of their clients.

It's a small, administrative matter for the Presiding Regional Judge to order judges of County Courts-at-Law or District Judges who typically hear civil cases to sit on criminal cases that have been placed on a special docket by order of the District Judges, according to Judge Johnson's reasoning.

The jury is still out.

The taxpayers and County Commissioners await the results of Judge Johnson's high noon meeting with his fellow jurists.

One may view a video of Tea Party reactions to the historic tax hike required to balance the books as a result of jail overcrowding by clicking here:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Clinton, Obama sell Obamacare, blame Supreme Court

"The devil you know is always better than the devil you don't know." - Barack Hussein Obama

New York – A female AP news writer described the scene in a darkened hotel ballroom as a spectacle of two presidents wearing dark power suits, relaxed and nearly reclining on comfy overstuffed chairs as they explained the Affordable Patient Protection Health Care Act of 2010 – Obamacare – to an adoring crowd at an opulent fundraiser.

President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama tossed away America's very real repulsion with a mandatory system of health care protection enforced by government bureaucrats as if it's a flute of fine champagne - offered in a toast, at a happy wedding reception.

They called it misdirected sentiment, aimed at the President, when it's really the Supreme Court that is to blame.

While freshman U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) read Dr. Seuss's “Green Eggs and Ham” to his little girls over C-Span as he filibustered a bill that if stymied would enable Republicans to hold the government's debt ceiling hostage to a defunding of the controversial law that becomes partly operative on Oct. 1, Clinton pointed out the part of the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare that holds states cannot be forced to take Medicaid money to finance the expansion of health care coverage.

That's going to lead to a cruel result, and there's nothing the President can do, and it's not his fault,” he said. “That's what the Supreme Court said.” So, blame it on the Governors, the Attorneys General, and the state legislators for taking advantage of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that enabled the bureaucracy of an unsustainably debt-riddled corporation, the United States of America, to force its citizens to buy health insurance – whether they want it, or not.

It's kind of like the Irishman who, when kicked by the jackass, said, “Consider the source.”

Such a deal.

Those individuals who refuse to enroll will be subject to punitive IRS tax levies, a procedure the Court ruled is constitutional because it's one of the House of Representatives' enumerated powers, that of levying taxes.

Part of the Clinton Global Initiative, the plan to palliate what a sizable majority of the nation sees as an abominable choice is in full swing. President Obama left the gala and appeared at a fundraiser held at the Waldorf-Astoria. Guests there paid a minimum of $5,000 a plate and a maximum of $32,400 to thump on the tubs for an idea that died an ignominious death 20 years ago during the Clinton Administration, was revived in 2010, and has caused the House of Representatives to vote its demise a phenomenal number of times - way past 30 times, but who's counting - to defund its implementation.

Despite their popularity, those bills have gone nowhere in the U.S. Senate. In fact, the issue has gridlocked the fiscal policies of the world's largest corporation, the U.S.A. The nation has operated without a budget since 2009, flying by the seat of its pants while the bankers who control the Federal Reserve Banks devalue the currency and increase the debt load to staggering heights.

Meanwhile, the world's more stable economies pour their cash into the deepest, most liquid pool on the planet, the Treasury bond market.

With a slipping credit rating, the yield is bound to go up. Cui bono?

One is reminded of the dilemma of confidence in the nation of Chile, right before they found President Salvador Allende sprawled across his desk, dead of a gunshot wound that left the back of his skull missing, the muzzle of a custom-engraved AK-47 assault rifle bearing Fidel Castro's signature thrust through his broken teeth. Jet fighters bombed and strafed the executive mansion for hours during his last day of life. Foreign policy experts often point to that as a textbook case of a hostile takeover. 

Here's a clue. The sitting President and Attorney General were ex-law partners - rainmakers - in Wall Street's largest, most successful bond firm.

It's all a function of "clearing up misconceptions," the President said. “Normally this would be pretty straightforward. But let's face it. It's been a little political, this whole Obamacare thing.”

As he spoke those words, Sen. Cruz read the names of dozens of multinational, Fortune 500 corporations that have cut their employees' work schedules to a week of less than 30 hours in order to exempt their payroll from its clutches. Cruz is the son of a Cuban who in 1959 fled what President Kennedy called “that imprisoned island” – fled for his life and those of his family.

This is the health care plan – the law of the land – the one you had to pass “to find out what's in it,” said then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).

This is a big part of what's in it.

Like Ragu, it's in there.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Man who shot daughter in the back during alleged property invasion to go on trial for murder Dec. 3 in shotgun killing

Hillsboro – The world will hear the story of how Edwin Odell Collins put his teenaged kids in the family mini-van and fled their rural home near Whitney in terror.

Somehow, according to the story he told investigators in July of 2012, his 15-year-old daughter lost her life after she screamed, and he impulsively fired his shotgun in the dark – at something he could not really describe, and never saw clearly.

This much is clear; during the long night on which a pretty young woman lost her life, the Collins family was fleeing some nameless, unspeakable terror brought on by what the father, Edwin Odell Collins, 41, described in a 911 call as multiple vehicles driving around the rural property, and a group of flashlight-bearing individuals he feared were searching for he and his children.

To this day, he has not said why. 
Edwin Odell Collins

He has said only that he heard a loud bang, and surmised that someone was shooting at he and his children. His daughter screamed, and he shot his gun in defense of their lives.

His plea to the Court is he is not guilty of murdering his daughter.

When the sun rose on July 24, the father and his two sons walked into the Hill County Sheriff's Office. His 17-year-old son then helped authorities find the lifeless body of Judith Collins, the fatal gunshot wound that felled her located in her back, where she lay in a copse of tangled brush that follows the fenceline near the family business.

During the night he never called 911 to report the shooting. Mr. Collins placed a call on a cell phone to the Bosque County Sheriff's Office, telling the dispatcher there of the property invasion in progress. The man lost contact with Collins when he tried to patch the call through to the proper agency, the Hill County dispatcher's office.

He failed to mention to his father when he visited the store that the girl lay dead in the brush. He asked only if any officers had stopped by to investigate.
Judith Collins

Collins' Hitchin' Post is a beer and gasoline emporium, a pit stop for bottled propane, milk, bread and cigarettes located at the busy corner of FM 933 and FM 1713, just north of Whitney. The Collins home is in a complex of houses and barns at the rear of the farm, a few hundred yards distant, just down a meandering caliche road. To the south, there is a brushy area surrounding another house and the fence separating the property from a neighbor's.

The Collins family fled after approaching the rear door of the beer store; when they heard the loud bang, they abandoned their vehicle nearby and ran for cover in the trees.

The horrific tale would be almost unbelievable – except for one factor.

Many other people in this state, residents of rural areas peripheral to the vital access corridor between Laredo to the south and the teeming triangular-shaped megalopolis of smaller communities that lies between Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin-San Antonio, and the coastal petrochemical complex of metropolitan Houston, have told a similar story.

Suddenly, their rural property is filled with vehicles chasing across the prairie, the night working alive with people carrying flashlights, running around, scouring the ground in the dark.

In at least one other case, a lawman fled when residents of a rural home chased him away from their property, his life's blood gushing from a gunshot wound to his back. 

It's hardly an unfamiliar story.

Others will only talk in guarded fashion about their experiences, too afraid to give a cogent and complete account of what has happened as they rested during a long night in rural homes near arteries of traffic leading from Mexico to the vital markets of the midwest, the northeastern Boston-Washington corridor, and the west coast beyond the Rockies and the deserts.

Only a fool fails to prepare.

Hill County's District Attorney, Mark Pratt, took his time about seeking the indictment grand jurors returned August 23. He had a previous autopsy finding of death by gunshot wound. He was seeking a finding based on certain evidence lawmen long sought that the wound was, in the expert opinion of a specialist, intentionally inflicted.

Jurors will assemble on December 3 to answer that question, once and for all.

Mr. Collins, a truck driver, remains free on $500,000 bond, charged with the shotgun murder of his daughter, who was shot in the back when she screamed in the night, fleeing some threat she perhaps never really saw and her family cannot fully describe. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Retired man walks away unhurt after crashing plane

Laguna Park - A retired man walked away unhurt from an awkward landing at a private airstrip at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, September 22, just yards from Lake Whitney Dam.

Eyewitnesses said Steve Howard, 450 Bosque County Road 1812, appeared to have stalled his 1946 Taylorcraft, a single-engine plane, at an altitude of about 50 feet.

"It just fell out of the air, and then it bounced on the left landing gear and spun around," said a neighbor, who requested anonymity because of an on-going dispute over ownership of the landing strip. "We and everyone else in Laguna Park are in danger that he may crash into a house."

The person who witnessed the crash said the same aircraft crash-landed in a similar fashion only a few weeks ago.

The plane skidded to a stop in trees beside the runway, avoiding a collision with a propane tank by only a few feet.

The only real damage done was to the antique two-place airplane, which snapped the left landing gear and sheared off the left wing upon impact.

The landing strip is collectively owned by some 20 property owners whose lots surround the grass runway. Property owners settled the ownership dispute out of court a few years ago, said neighbors. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rangers arrest Judge for falsifying records

Waco – Pct. 7 Justice of the Peace Jean Laster Boone ordered employees to falsify her milage records, according to court papers filed by Texas Rangers.
They charged her with tampering with government documents, and a fellow Judge released her on $2,500 bond following an investigation ordered in June by District Attorney Abel Reyna.
One clerk said the judge ordered her to calculate the maximum number of miles so she could receive the top reimbursement of $360 per month for the use of her personal vehicle.
Asked about her problems by newsmen in the lobby of the McLennan County Courthouse, Judge Boone said, “I will have no comment.”
There have been numerous peccadillos between the judge and members of the Commissioners Court regarding expense vouchers and budget requests.This is a link to a July, 2012, story about overtime records and admitted double-entry bookkeeping:

 Here is an audio recording of one such discussion:

Florida quiz probes middle schoolers' politics

Indian River County (Vero Beach), Florida – An incisive 7-question quiz probes kids about their politics under the heading, “What kind of party animal are you?”

They weren't supposed to bring it home, but one kid got away with a copy. Here are the questions, sent to by a concerned parent against Common Core:

Take this quiz to get a sense of which party, the Republican or the Democrat, is the better fit for you. Remember, you do not have to pick a party – you may remain Independent. You may also change your party.”

Question #1: “I would support a government increase of my taxes if the money were used to pay for expanded health and social programs.”
Question #2: “I think the government should impose stricter limits on access to guns.”
Question #3: “I believe organized prayer should be kept out of schools. Having students pray is a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”
Question #4: “I would support drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.”
Question #5: “I believe that looking out for U.S. interests abroad must come first, even if that means the U.S. takes action without the approval of the United Nations or our allies.”
Question #6: “I believe if you have nothing to hide, theres no reason to worry about government surveillance. It would not bother me if my government listened in on my personal phone calls as long as the surveillance was helping to catch terrorists.”
Question #7: “I believe the government should relax regulations on immigration and find a way for law-abiding illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally and pay taxes.”
NOTE: The answer choices for each question are – Agree (one point), Not Sure (two points), Disagree (three points).
According to Jennifer Idlette-Williams, Principal of Storm Grove Middle School, “The survey What Kind of Party Animal Are You? came from page 14 of the Junior Scholastic Magazine, which is a state approved resource for Florida’s mandatory Civics state curriculum.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Austin Appeals Court overturns Delay conviction

Appeals Court rules insufficient evidence

Austin – The Third District Court of Appeals acquitted former U.S. Representative Tom Delay on charges of money laundering, for which he was convicted in 2010.

Delay, who had been free on bond, was accused of attempting to convert campaign contributions he received as a U.S. Representative to contributions for state representatives, a violation of Texas law.

In an opinion handed down from the appeals court, a judge ordered "Because we conclude that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay's convictions, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and render judgments of acquittal," said an opinion from the District Court of Travis County, Texas.

Delay resigned from Congress in 2006. He is an exterminator from Sugarland.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sex, contraband charges at private lock-up

Inmates moved to unionized lockups in the north

Waco, Texas – Amid allegations involving contraband and improper sex relations between inmates and staff, the top management of the Sheriff's Office in this central Texas city will give the private operator of a troublesome 816-bed for-profit jail the benefit of the doubt.

Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon, a recently retired Texas Ranger, emphasized that LaSalle Corrections took over operation of the Jack Harwell Detention Center in early summer. “A lot of these people were employees who were hired in by the former contractor (CEC, Inc.).”

Sheriff Parnell McNamara, who retired as the chief Deputy U.S. Marshal in Charge of the Waco office of the Western District of Texas, said, “The minute LaSalle had any idea of this, they brought it to our attention, and arrests were made.” Sheriff McNamara gained election in 2012, defeating long-term Sheriff Larry Lynch in the Republican primary.

Both officials feel that the private jail operator, which contracts to run 16 lockups in Texas counties and Louisiana parishes, is clearing its ranks of substandard employees.

Three female employees are charged.

Sherry Lynn Haynes confessed that she brought in a pack of cigarettes she concealed in her bra and gave them to an inmate named Thomas Kyle Wilson. Tobacco products fetch a premium black market price in the lockup because all smoking materials are disallowed throughout the premises. Ms. Haynes is charged with a third degree felony, Prohibited Substance and Items in a Correctional Facility.

According to court papers, two other female corrections officers performed oral sex on inmates. The allegations were learned from a compact disk with 16 jail recordings of calls Inmate David Escobar placed to a personal phone belonging to Corrections Officer Regina Edwards, a former employee.

Escobar confessed that Ms. Edwards performed oral sex on him four times during their relationship at the privately-operated jail. She and Dorothy Pennington are charged with Improper Sexual Activity With a Person in Custody, a State Jail Felony considered a sex crime.

Inmates are unable to effectively give their consent to have sexual relations with licensed officials under whose supervision they are incarcerated.

Still employed as a correctional officer, Dorothy Pennington confessed that she performed oral sex on Inmate Juan Guzman while he was in his cell.

Former contractor CEC, Inc., lost a contract to house inmates of the Department of Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency due to substandard plumbing and unhealthy conditions.

According to Deputy Cawthon, that is part of a trend in which the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice have both moved prisoners housed in jails located in southern states to northern lockups staffed by unionized employees.

Of the inmates that are held over by ICE, they have all been shipped north at a cost of triple ours to facilities staffed by union corrections officers,” he said.

The private operator is paid a fee of about $50 per day for each prisoner housed in privately-operated prisons. In northern states staffed by unionized employees, the rate is $150 per day, said Deputy Cawthon.

Starbucks 86's rifle-toting open carry activists

They can stay, rifles have to go
Murdoch Pizgatti of, whose real name is Horton
BULLETIN: Open Carry Texas released this statement, according to M/Sgt. C.J. Grisham: Open Carry Texas is disappointed by the statements made by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz earlier today reference guns in his stores.  Without banning guns outright, Schultz has effectively told his employees and customers that citizens are not welcome in his business if they choose to arm themselves for self defense or the defense of others.  He has instead created a situation that will only lead to confusion by his employees and customers.
We believe that an armed society is a polite society.  By basically banning guns in his stores, Mr. Schultz has effectively made his employees and customers victims to thugs and criminals who prefer soft (unarmed) targets.  By announcing that the chain does not welcome gun owners, he has in essence laid out the welcome mat for the less desirable criminal element.

“It’s not unusual to see people coming to Starbucks to chat, meet up or even work. We’re a neighborhood gathering place, a part of the daily routine – and we couldn’t be happier about it. Get to know us and you’ll see: we are so much more than what we brew.” - Starbucks corporate website

Dallas – Open carry activism took a bitter turn today.

The international corporation that operates Starbucks stores politely requested that open carry activists not enter its locations bearing weapons.

The confrontation has been building with visits from police in cities all across Texas who inform assault-rifle wielding activists that they are alarming other customers, to please leave the premises with their rifles, though carrying a long gun is legal in Texas.

According to a question and answer list prepared for barristas to use as a guideline, they are not to confront rifle-bearing customers directly, but call 9-1-1 if they refuse to take their guns elsewhere.

“What do I say if a customer asks about our request” We are respectfully requesting customers not bring weapons into our stores...

“What if a customer asks, 'Am I no longer welcome in your store?'” Everyone is welcome in our stores, but weapons are not.

According to an entry in “Come and Take It Dallas,” a Facebook page, “Now we know exactly how Starbucks feels about us and our rights.”

“Now we can confidently spend our hard earned money with someone else who deserves it. We got exactly what we wanted. Thank you all for participating in our events to flesh out the true feelings of Starbucks. They want every Starbucks to be a target for mass shootings like every gun free zone is, so don't bring your children anywhere near one. We can now stop aiding the enemy. Great job!” said Murdoch Pizgatti, a man whose real name is Horton. Mr. Horton lives at Little Elm, Texas, near Lake Lewisville.

Enemy? The barristas at Starbucks?

Our children? Tears spring to one's eyes, and that's not a good sign.

One would like to ask Melville. Would Mr. Starbuck have taken his pipe out of his mouth to say all this? Just asking.

Rob Orr on budget challenge: 'It's not a buffet...'

Whiskey's for drinking; water's for fighting over.

Meridian, Texas – In his fifth and final term, 58th District Representative Rob Orr (R-Burleson) sees Texas in an enviable position in national and international terms of economic recovery.
Rep. Ron Orr

The biggest thing is to handle the growth.”

Something like 1,000 people per day vote with their feet and choose the Lone Star State. They got here as quick as they could.

The biggest challenge is that the budget is not a buffet, he agreed, chiming in with District 22 State Senator Brian Birdwell, a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon in his freshman Senatorial term.

So the growth factor has a key element, and it's that old question of Texas politics. Who gets the water, and what do they use it to produce?

Orr is in a position to know. Because of his seniority, he has been placed on the two most scorching hot seats the 83rd Legislature could have produced. Redistricting, the painful process propelled by the U.S. Constitution and the decennial census, and appropriations are the twin pulse points, the dos equis marking the confluence of all the variables.

He served on both.

He wasn't alone. On the other side of the rotunda, Sen. Birdwell worked as his legislative partner.
Sen. Brian Birdwell

They both agree with the proposition that Texas can manage its growth through control of spending and an adroit handling of money resources on a cash and carry basis.

Both pointed with pride to a central selling point.

Texas ranks 48th out of 50 states in its per capita spending, a conservative fiscal posture that has led to an unswerving commitment to leave 8 billion dollars untouched in a Rainy Day fund, to cut spending to the bone, and to provide tax relief wherever possible.

They have a majority opinion backing them. The minority report, they both told the Bosque Republican Club, holds a different view. Democrats want to spend that Rainy Day fund down to zero bucks. Republicans want a threshold below which none dare tread.

Of the four things that must be accomplished to accommodate that dramatic growth rate – one that is fueled by the economic failure of less robust economies on the left, the right, and points north – the state water plan is the ultimate, the linchpin, the capstone of the quartet of issues that control the cue.

It has a $53 billion price tag, and in the middle of a drought that surpasses the crippling effects of the 1950 dry bones dust-out, it would mean forgoing all educational operations for the next biennium. Birdwell pointed that out.

When combined with Medicaid costs, education accounts for 75 percent of the state's spending.

Transportation brings up the rear in the $196.9 billion biennial shower of power - and Texas DOT officials claim perennially that they have been shorted by half in each biennial budget.

How will they do it?

Here's a clue.

If oil and gas prices don't continue to rise, we're going to have to make significant reductions,” Birdwell said, as he handed the microphone back to Orr.

He delivered the other half of the one-two punch.

We were really $27 billion short when we went into session 4 years ago.”

It's up to voters. They will be asked in November if they will tap the Rainy Day fund by $2 billion to seed a comprehensive state water plan that will do in the 21st century what Texans did in mid-20th century by building reservoirs, damming rivers, and catching every last drop before it flows down the creeks and bayous and into the briny depths of the Gulf of Mexico.

You could have heard a pin drop, but the reaction was nothing compared to the stone-faced and stoic blow back when it came time to explore the realities of Medicaid.

You think of elderly medical care as Medicare, but that's a misconception. Nursing home expenses are covered by Medicaid, and it was a 1964 law Texas opted to take advantage of in 1966 because of one reason, and one reason only.

If you don't use it, you not only lose it, but you still have to pay the taxes, anyway.
The deal is geared this way.

If you like, you pay; if you no like, you still pay.

Some other state gets your tax funds – which run at 85 cents paid back by Washingtonian bureaucrats for each dollar Texans send inside the Beltway.

The stinger: “We have no mechanism in Medicaid to limit our expenditures.”

There is no way of determining if a Medicaid recipient is in fact a citizen, or not. The eligibility requirements of the program prohibit even asking the question. Opt out if you wish, but it's a guarantee that hospitals and rest homes in California or New York - or Florida - will wind up spending Texans' tax dollars, and then Texans will have to pay an additional state tax to make up the difference.

We do not have a broken immigration progam' we have a lack of will to enforce the law.” Applause.

That's what they mean when they call it a job killer.


Both Orr and Birdwell agreed that by decreasing the number of State Board of Education achievement tests to a more manageable 7 – two of them diagnostic – the primary accomplishment is to avoid the federal courtroom, reduce the Robin Hood litigation endemic to south Texas.

Hot buttons abound.

Right to life: “A woman still has a right to choose, but we raised the medical standards.”

Gun control: A new law guarantees that a city or county can't adopt more stringent controls than those allowed by the U.S. and Texas Constitutions.

What causes hideous incidents like the Washington Navy Yard slaughter? “The ill attempt of someon with a weapon, and the attempt of someone else to keep the ordinary citizen from having one.” More applause.