04.13.15

Williamson County Judge Tim Wright Indicted, Suspended

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 10:35 am by wcnews

HeadlinerPhotoTIFF

Via KXAN, Judge Timothy Wright to be arraigned this Wednesday.

Wright faces nine federal charges. Prosecutors say he sold guns illegally, sold them to criminals and tried to help smuggle guns between June 2014 and February of this year.

According to ATF Special Agent in Charge Robert Elder, “This firearms trafficking investigation, which involves multiple firearms destined for Mexico, is another example of ATF’s relentless pursuit of individuals who attempt to utilize any means available to illegally appropriate and divert firearms for criminal purposes.”

Wright, 70, is also accused of falsifying information when he purchased firearms from gun stores in Georgetown and Copperas Cove. In the indictment, it says Wright filled out paperwork indicating he was the buyer of the firearms, but he was actually buying the firearms on behalf of another person. The document goes on to say Wright lied to ATF agents about when sales took place and to whom. It does not indicate if any of the weapons were used in commission of another crime. He does own a Federal Firearm License which allows him to sell guns as a dealer, and Senter said Wright did not know he was selling guns illegally or that they were bound for Mexico.

Meanwhile, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct has suspended Wright. A Williamson County spokesperson said the county and its commissioners do not have the authority to remove the judge from the bench or keep him from hearing cases.

Wright’s attorney told KXAN that his client is innocent of any charges. Dallas-based criminal defense attorney Jeff Senter says Wright retained him after the raid.

“The judge is obviously innocent of any charges to be brought against him. We look forward to learning the facts about the case,” Senter told KXAN Investigator Robert Maxwell.

In other news Williamson County DA Jana Duty wants her day in court.

03.26.15

Williamson County News – New Elections Administrator, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and Debt

Posted in Criminal Justice, Elections, Williamson County at 12:32 pm by wcnews

Williamson County has chosen a new Elections Administrator.  Welcome Chris Davis from Cameron County, New elections administrator hired.

With early voting set to start two weeks after his first day on the job, Williamson County’s new elections administrator will hit the ground running.

The county’s five-member Election Commission on Feb. 26 chose Chris Davis to fill the position. Since January 2013 Davis has been elections administrator for Cameron County, which includes Brownsville and South Padre Island.

“Chris has a lot of qualities that we thought were a good match for the position,” said Deborah Hunt, Williamson County’s tax assessor/collector and one of five Election Commission members. “His enthusiasm and sincere desire to work in an area where voter turnout was higher was a strong pull for him.

“Chris speaks fluent Spanish, which we thought was an advantage. He is technically astute and seems to thrive on challenge. I think coming here, with our vote centers and electronic tablets for all the polling places, was a draw as well.”

Joining Hunt in approving the hire were her fellow commission members: County Judge Dan Gattis, County Clerk Nancy Rister, Republican Party Chairman Bill Fairbrother and Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve Williamson County in this capacity and will do my best to make the county, its voters and its entities proud,” Davis said in a press release.

Davis is scheduled to start work in Williamson County on April 13 and will be paid an annual salary of $84,000, county spokesperson Connie Watson said.

Because of Williamson County’s history it always grabs attention when accusations of “prosecutorial misconduct” come up, Williamson Co. DA’s Office accused of withholding evidence in murder case.

Hidden and difficult-to-access timestamps on a key piece of evidence led to a mistrial in a capital murder case last May. Now, it has led to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct against Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty.

Ron Morrison is right (don’t read that here very often), and Lisa Birkman is wrong,
Williamson County Calls for More Public Feedback Before Debt Vote.

“Nobody likes to build buildings, but we just don’t have a choice,” Williamson County Commissioner Ron Morrison said. “We’re busting at the seams in every area.”

County leaders are considering another $70 million in debt to cover the county’s Capital Improvements Project. The project would add training facilities for the sheriff’s office and EMS as well as office space for county services.

Commissioner Lisa Birkman believes there’s some fat that can be cut from what she calls a “wish list.”

“Some of them seem to have things that would be nice to have, but we don’t necessarily have to have right away,” Birkman said. “I’d like to see us put it to the voters.”

[…]

“We’re only going to see higher interest rates, and I’d like to capitalize on that,” Morrison said. “And $10 million in the grand scheme of things over the next 10 or 50 years is not going to make that much of a difference.”

Morrison calls concerns about county debt “legitimate.”

“I don’t like going any more in debt, but we’re one of the fastest growing counties in the nation,” Morrison said. “I don’t know what else to do.”

Still, Morrison believes deeper debt is the county’s best option until revenue catches up with growth.

We don’t need to put this on a ballot.

01.22.15

California Rolling Stop

Posted in Around The State, Leander, Transportation, Williamson County at 1:19 pm by wcnews

Just like water finds its own level, when traffic gets bad drivers look for other options.  Technology is allowing drivers to find new routes to get around, New traffic apps may be pushing cars into residential areas, (via Atrios).

Many commuters say that Waze has made driving a more pleasant and serendipitous experience. But residents along once-quiet streets that parallel Los Angeles County’s freeways have begun to complain that commuters dodging sluggish morning traffic are zipping through their neighborhoods, veering around corners and rolling through stop signs. And some of the worst of the traffic, they say, is being diverted to streets that are too small to be commuting conduits.

This reminded me of this item which I saw on the local news earlier in the week, Leander police crack down on reckless driving in subdivision.

Hang out by stop signs in the County Glen subdivision and you can see the problem.

“Some of them just do a Californian stop and roll through it,” Bo Biggs said, “and some of them barely hesitate and once they see there’s nobody around they gas it going through.” [Emphasis added]

The County Glen subdivision sits between U.S. Highway 183 and Bagdad Road, two very busy roads. So police are patrolling more and handing out tickets to drivers who don’t stop.

“They think it’s significant because it’s off the main route, but they use it as a cut through,” Biggs added.

Running stop signs isn’t the only concern. Neighbors say some people are driving much faster than the posted 30 mph.

“Oh yes, very fast,” said Libby Simpson, who asked for the stop signs years ago. “It’s unnerving it is…especially in the spring when you pop open your windows and you hear so much going up and down the road. It’s scary.”

It would be interesting to know where these folks stand on raising the necessary billions that are needed to fix our transportation problems in this state. Hopefully they understand the neglect of issues like transportation, by their local and state governments, is why they now have dangerous traffic driving through their once safe neighborhood.

11.20.14

Williamson County Elections Administrator Resigns (AGAIN)

Posted in Elections, Williamson County at 5:23 pm by wcnews

This is getting redundant to say the least, Williamson County election administrator Jason Barnett resigns. Kay Estes has been appointed as his interim replacement as Williamson County Elections Administrator.

The Williamson County Election Commission has named Kay Eastes as the interim elections administrator. Jason Barnett resigned from his position on November 13, 2014. Ms. Eastes will serve until a new elections administrator is selected. The elections administrator is appointed by the Elections Commission which is comprised of the County Judge, County Clerk, County Tax Assessor/Collector and the county chairs of the Republican and Democratic political parties. Anyone interested in applying for the position can go to http://www.wilco.org/default.aspx?tabid=2059 for more information.

There were some issues reporting results to Travis County during the last election.  Williamson County just can’t seem to hang on to an elections administrator for very long.

10.20.14

Williamson County Races On The 2014 Ballot

Posted in Election 2014, Williamson County at 8:22 am by wcnews

index

Anyone who lives in Williamson County can click here to access a sample ballot.

Below is a list of the races involving Democrats on the ballot in Williamson County in 2014.

US House of Representatives, District 31
Louie Minor – Democrat
John Carter (i) – Republican
Scott J. Ballard – Libertarian

Senate District 5:
Joel Shapiro – Democrat
Charles Schwertner (i) – Republican

Shapiro looks to be another candidate inspired to run by Wendy Davis.  Definitely a tough race against a well funded Republican incumbent, in a GOP drawn district.

House District 20:
Steve Wyman – Democrat
Marsha Farney (i) – Republican
Jarrod Weaver – Libertarian

Wyman is a perennial candidate.  Another uphill struggle in a GOP drawn district.

House District 52:
Chris Osborn – Democrat
Irene Johnson – Libertarian
Larry Gonzales (i) – Republican

Osborn is a former member of the Taylor City Council.  This was a swing district (Democrat Diana Maldonado won here in 2008), is it still? A race with a Libertarian where they could take 3 – 5% of the vote.

House District 136:
John Bucy – Democrat
Tony Dale (i) – Republican
Justin Billiot – Libertarian

Bucy is a first time candidate, but has been working very hard.  This is a race to watch, 136 is a district where a hard working Democrat could have a chance. Also a race where the Libertarian can make a difference. Dale appears scared since he’s been telling lies about his opponent.

County Judge:
Michael  Custer – Democrat
Dan A. Gattis (i) – Republican

Custer is a first time candidate, running against and entrenched establishment Republican.

County Commissioner, Precinct 2:
Eddie B. Hurst – Democrat
Cynthia Long (i) – Republican

Hurst has run for Mayor and City Council in Cedar Park previously.

County Commissioner, Precinct 4:
Tom Mowdy – Democrat
Ron Morrison (i) – Republican

Mowdy ran for Taylor City Council in 2013.  Many have thought in the past that Precinct 4 is winnable for a Democrat.

Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1:
Nick Lealos – Democrat
Dain Johnson (i) – Republican

Lealos is a first time candidate.  A local attorney running in what has been a Democratic friendly precinct in the past.

Democrats in Williamson County in 2014 have fielded a great slate of candidates.  This along with the candidates Texas Democrats have running statewide leaves no excuse for Texas wanting change to stay home.  If issues like education, health care, investment in the future, equality, and fairness are important to you then you owe it to yourself and future generations to vote in 2014.

Early Voting Starts Today – Where To Early Vote In Williamson County

Posted in Election 2014, Williamson County at 5:00 am by wcnews

earlyvoting

Early Voting Schedule General Election November 4, 2014                                                                                                                                                    

Williamson County Early Voting Schedule
Horario de la Votación Adelantada Del Condado de Williamson

Joint General and Special Elections– November 4, 2014
Elecciónes Generales y Especiales Conjuntas – 4 de noviembre del 2014

Dates for Full-Time Locations:
Fechas para localidades de tiempo completo

Monday, October 20 through Friday, October 31  
Del Lunes 20 de octubre al Viernes 31 octubre
7am to 7pm

Sunday, October 26
Domingo 26 de octubre
12pm to 6pm
            
Main Location: 
Localidad Central

Williamson County Inner Loop Annex, 301 SE Inner Loop, Georgetown

Branch Locations:

Otras localidades

Anderson Mill Limited District, 11500 El Salido Pkwy, Austin

Cedar Park Public Library, 550 Discovery Blvd, Cedar Park

Cedar Park Randalls, 1400 Cypress Creek Rd, Cedar Park

Cowan Creek Amenity Center, 1433 Cool Springs Way, Georgetown

Georgetown Parks & Recreation Admin Bldg, 1101 N. College St, Georgetown

Hutto City Hall, 401 Front St, Hutto

Pat Bryson Municipal Hall, 201 N Brushy St, Leander

Baca Senior Center, 301 W. Bagdad Ave, Round Rock

Brushy Creek Community Center, 16318 Great Oaks Dr, Round Rock

JB and Hallie Jester Annex, 1801 E. Old Settlers Blvd,Round Rock

Round Rock Randalls, 2051 Gattis School Rd, Round Rock

Taylor City Hall, 400 Porter St, Taylor

Mobile Temporary Locations, Dates & Times:
Fechas y horario de las Localidades móviles temporales:
Hours 10am -7pm
Horario 10am-7pm

Tuesday, October 21          Granger City Hall, 303 S Commerce St, Granger
Martes 21 de octubre

Wednesday, October 22     Clairmont Retirement Community, 12463 Los Indios Trl, Austin
Miércoles 22 de octubre

Thursday, October 23         Jarrell Memorial Park, 1651 CR 305, Jarrell
Jueves 23 de octubre

Friday, October 24             Seton Medical Center, 201 Seton Pkwy, Round Rock
Viernes 24 de octubre

Saturday, October 25         Liberty Hill Annex, 3407 RR 1869, Liberty Hill
Sábado  25 de octubre

Monday, October 27          ACC Cypress Crk Campus, 1555 Cypress Crk Rd, Cedar Park
Lunes 27 de octubre

Tuesday, October 28         Southwestern Univ McCombs Campus Ctr, 1010 McKenzie Dr. Georgetown
Martes 28 de octubre

Wednesday, October 29    Clairmont Retirement Community, 12463 Los Indios Trl, Austin
Miércoles 29 de octubre

Thursday, October 30        ACC Round Rock Campus, 4400 College Park Dr, Round Rock
Jueves 30 de octubre

SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Sujeto a cambios

09.19.14

Statesman Endorses Democrats Bucy and Osborn over GOP Incumbents

Posted in Election 2014, HD-136, HD-20, HD-52, Williamson County at 8:15 am by wcnews

In two Williamson County  house races the Austin American Statesman has endorsed Democratic challengers Chris Osborn (HD-52) and John Bucy (HD-136) over the GOP incumbents.  One big reason is the incumbents votes against public education, and continuing to neglect the needs of Texas, Change needed in some districts.

As the 28th fastest-growing county in the country, according to the latest census report, Williamson County faces significant challenges: from transportation to affordable energy; from education to job creation; and from financing infrastructure to maintaining a quality of life. Addressing those challenges takes strong leadership, and on Nov. 4, voters will have to determine whether the three incumbent state representatives in Districts 20, 52 and 136 have done enough for the area, or if it’s time for a change. In two of the three races, we believe a change is needed for Williamson County.

Both the GOP incumbents in these races voted for a voucher plan last session that ultimately failed.  Larry Gonzales (HD-52) went along with the extremists in the GOP in 2011 and “supported the massive education budget cuts”. They endorse Osborn stating:

Osborn, an attorney, wants to not only make public education a priority but also wants to help our state and local governments be more efficient and transparent, if he is elected. Though he is the underdog, Osborn understands planning for the future is the best way to address the issues of a fast-growing district. His willingness to work with both sides of the aisle should serve him well if elected.

In HD-136 they mainly take issue with Dale’s vote for a voucher program while leaving out his lying about his opponent. They endorse Bucy this way.

…Bucy has a vision to help fight for quality public education for all Texas children if he is elected. He has a multi-faceted approach for traffic solutions and understands that Williamson County needs to bring in more professional jobs to the area. He is a refreshingly strong candidate in a county that has struggled to mount a significant Democratic presence with viable candidates.

In the other district that includes Williamson County HD-20, (the reddest of the three districts), they endorse the incumbent Republican Marsha Farney over Democratic candidate Steve Wyman.  Farney may be the most sensible Republican of the three.

All three races include a Libertarian candidate.

09.05.14

Bucy Calls Out Dale For Lying In HD-136

Posted in Election 2014, HD-136, Williamson County at 8:01 am by wcnews

One local race that isn’t getting much attention, but may bear watching, is the race in  Texas House District 136.  It’s between Democratic challenger John Bucy and GOP incumbent Tony Dale. This is the friendliest house district for Democrats in Williamson County.

Bucy has been running and organizing for over a year and boasts an impressive number of doors knocked thus far – more than 41,000. That’s an impressive number considering that in 2012 around 60,000 people voted in district 136. In 2014, a mid-term election, turnout’s likely to be lower. And if Bucy can turn out a fair amount of those whose doors have been knocked on this could be a close race.

And it appears Dale may have figured that out too. This week it came to light that Dale’s been lying about Bucy. And from Bucy’s press release on the issue, it appears Dale continued to spread the lie even though he knew it was false.

Here’s the full press release (excerpted below):

The John Bucy Campaign is shocked and appalled that the current state representative is knowingly lying to his constituents to score political points, and the voters deserve better.

Two weeks ago, the Tony Dale campaign falsely accused John Bucy of having $160,000 in unpaid tax liens for over the past four years. But John Bucy has never had any tax liens placed against him, and he does not owe over $160,000 in back taxes, as falsely accused.
For the past two weeks, Tony Dale continued to push that lie; and for the past two weeks, John Bucy has chosen to take the high road and continue to focus on the issues that matter to the voters.

But John was deeply bothered to see Tony Dale take this lie to the next level today, and release these unfounded claims in a press release.
The Williamson County Democratic Party chair, on behalf of the Bucy Campaign, called on multiple occasions to speak with Tony Dale directly, in order to clear up these false accusations. Tony Dale never took the time to respond. Instead, he eventually had his hired consultant, Corbin Casteel, contact her. She informed him that this was the wrong John Bucy, and that John H. Bucy III, candidate for state representative, has never lived at the address attached to the lien.

Since the Dale campaign knew for over a week that this was not the same John Bucy, there is NO EXCUSE to use this information to mislead the voters, as he did in a press release today.

This is the dirtiest of dirty politics.

When a candidate knowingly spreads lie about another candidate that legitimizes the other candidate.  If Dale didn’t see Bucy as a legitimate threat tot his reelection, he wouldn’t go forward with such an egregiously false attack. Maybe that’s just “SOP” for the Wilco GOP.

This is a three person race, there’s a Libertarian running as well.  And considering the Libertarian candidate got 6% of the vote in 2012.  This was a new district in 2012 so there’s no performance data from a mid-term election in this district.  Bucy is definitely putting in the work needed to make it a race.  And if their turnout operation is a good as their organizing has been so far, they may just be able to pull this off.

This is definitely a race to keep an eye on.

08.28.14

Stubblefield Asks To Be Recused From Kelley’s Request For A New Trial

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 9:33 am by wcnews

Via the AAS, Judge in Greg Kelley case recuses himself from request for new trial.

The judge who presided over the July trial of Greg Kelley has recused himself from considering Kelley’s motion for a new trial.

District Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield sent a letter Monday to the chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court asking that another judge consider the motion for a new trial.

“The interests of justice would be served by having another judge consider the Defendant’s Motion for New Trial and the State’s response thereto with fresh eyes and ears,” said the letter.

The letter provided no further explanation for Stubblefield’s decision to recuse himself. A judge has until Sept. 29 to decide whether to grant a hearing on the motion.

I’m not sure if this means anything or not. It seems it would make sense to have a different judge from the trial judge rule on the request for a new trial. With a new judge if the ruling goes against Kelley it would seem to bolster the case against him.  This is definitely something to keep an eye on.

08.13.14

Kelley’s Attorney Files Request For New Trial

Posted in Criminal Justice, Williamson County at 2:49 pm by wcnews

Via KXAN.

The new attorney for Greg Kelley, the Leander man found guilty of super aggravated sexual assault of a child, has filed the necessary paperwork to request a new trial.

Attorney Keith Hampton filed the motion arguing the state did not conduct a competent investigation and that one of the jurors was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

“This case is a perfect blueprint for mishandling child accusations and producing wrongful convictions of innocent people,” Hampton writes in the motion, ” Only this court can set things right by ordering a new trial.”

The document goes on to say the child’s accusations were not thoroughly investigated to establish whether or not they are reliable. And, whether or not Greg Kelley was a likely suspect.

The motion calls the investigation into question saying the system got it wrong in the case of Michael Morton. Morton was wrongfully convicted in Williamson County for his wife’s murder and spent 25 years in prison before DNA tests freed him.

“Can we tolerate another Michael Morton?” Kelley’s attorney asks.

Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty disputed the Morton argument in a news conference Wednesday.

I”‘m very familiar with the Michael Morton case, as it was a big part of my campaign. I cannot help but find irony in the fact that that one of the key pieces of evidence – other than the bandana – that freed Michael Morton was the testimony of his 3-and-a-half-year-old son,” Duty said.

“All of the testimony of that 3 1/2 year old boy was credible and helped free his father. So now, the irony to say that these two four-year-old little boys shouldn’t be trusted because they’re four is absurd. We tell our children to tell us when something’s happening to them. They did. And now we say – well, we can’t trust that,” she continued.

At this point there’s really no parallel to the Morton case.  But because of that case Williamson County has a reputation.  In the end we need justice and fairness to prevail.

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