The aftermath of the Greg Kelley seems a little odd. For one thing, there’s usually not a post conviction rally for someone who is convicted of super aggravated sexual assault of a 4 year old. The case had some twists and turns and, it seems, could have gone either way.
From what I’ve been able to piece together it appears Kelley was living with another family, that ran an in home day care, because his parents had some medical issues. It was during that time the assault occurred. It was initially two children who made a claim of assault, with one later recanting. This article form the HCN is a good summary of what happened at the trial.
Still, the lack of evidence and the recanting of one boy’s testimony had Kelley’s family and friends feeling hopeful as the trial progressed. Defense attorney Patricia Cummings pointed out holes in the investigation performed by the Cedar Park Police Department, including a failure to interrogate Kelley when he was indicted, and detectives’ failure to seek out or interview other possible witnesses.
On the stand, detective Christopher Dailey admitted that he didn’t talk to any other possible witnesses, admitted to deleting emails about the case in violation of department policy, and said he took it upon himself to interview the second boy despite the training he received on investigating child sex abuse claims which teaches that detectives should not interview a child.
Cummings painted a picture of a detective who had already made up his mind about Kelley’s guilt and simply investigated the case in a way to confirm the detective’s own conclusions.
“As a result you believed you did not need to investigate the possibility of something else having happened?” asked Cummings.
“Correct,” said Dailey.
“Isn’t the policy in your department not to destroy documents produced in an investigation?” asked Cummings.
“Correct,” said Dailey.
Kelley’s defense presented an expert witness, Austin psychologist Stephen Thorne, who testified that children who are interviewed multiple times are much more likely to make false accusations in sexual abuse cases.
“There’s a reason why we want to get an interview done one time and put it on video so a child doesn’t have to do it anymore,” Thorne said.
Both of the boys who alleged that Kelley had abused them were interviewed multiple times, including the separate interview by Det. Dailey, which Dailey admitted to conducting on his own primarily because the second boy had backed away from his earlier claims when interviewed by trained counselors at the Williamson County Children’s Advocacy Center. Dailey, who had already testified that believed Kelley had abused the boys, wanted to talk to the second boy a separate time to see if he couldn’t get the boy to admit to abuse.
“You thought the first interviewer had not established a proper rapport?” Cummings asked him, and Dailey responded, “Correct.”
Dailey testified that he walked into the room as soon as the boy’s interview with counselors was over to question the child himself.
“When you do it you actually have a gun on your hip?” Cummings asked.
“Yes,” said Dailey.
“How many seconds do you think you spent building rapport with him before you started asking him about allegations against Greg?”said Cummings.
“I didn’t attempt to build rapport,” said Dailey.
In closing arguments last Tuesday, Cummings accused the Cedar Park Police Department of doing a lax job of investigating the case, ‘contaminating’ the testimony by improperly interviewing the accusers and having inappropriate conversations with the boys’ parents and then deleting email evidence.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Puryear said, however, that the defense’s case is based on the boys’ parents lying to the court and “planting ideas in their kids’ heads.”
After 11 hours of deliberation, including a brief question to the judge, jurors returned a guilty verdict on both counts of sexual assault involving the first child.
Faced with the possibility of life in prison, Kelley agreed to a plea bargain that would allow him to serve his two 25-year sentences concurrently.
Puryear characterized Kelley’s accepting the plea as proof of his guilt, and said prosecutors were satisfied with the outcome of the trial
However, before the trial commenced, Kelley turned down an offer from the District Attorney’s office that would have had him plead guilty to a lesser charge, and serve no jail time. Kelley said that rather than plead guilty to a crime he didn’t commit, he would go to trial and place his fate in the hands of a jury.
That jury wound up convicting him.
An interview with Kelley’s defense attorney, (see below), sheds some light on what the jury may have been thinking. Cummings spoke with one juror after the trial. The juror said in essence they were leaning for acquittal when the trial began and evolved to conviction. They threw everything out,except for the child’s testimony, and couldn’t get past the fact that the defense gave them no alternative scenario for who may have abused the child.
This AAS article has a good write up of the prosecutions case.
There’s an eerie familiarity with how vehement Kelley and Cummings are in his innocence and how certain the prosecutors are in his guilt – especially without any evidence. This is a tough case for all involved, and it’s hard to see a way for this case to be reviewed or reopened without new evidence coming to light.
I hope and pray the jury got this right. Because the alternative is unthinkable. That an innocent young man took his chances with a Williamson County jury, lost, and will spend 25 year in jail for a crime he did not commit, while the person who molested this child is still out there. After what the Williamson County criminal justice system went through over the last several years, it’s only natural that a conviction like this might be scrutinized more then usual.
Elected officials will receive a pay increase for the 2014–15 fiscal year following a vote from the Williamson County Commissioners Court on July 1.
Commissioners voted for a 3 percent increase for county judge, commissioners, treasurer, sheriff and constables; a 4 percent increase for county clerk, district clerk, tax assessor and justices of the peace; and a $10,000 increase for county attorney.
Several officials spoke out in favor of increasing county employee salaries.
Policymakers, nonprofit representatives and local leaders gathered April 22 for the Community Impact Summit that addressed how to meet the needs of Williamson County residents during a time of swift population growth.
Speakers at the event in Round Rock said social- and human-service agencies must work together to address the needs of their current and future neighbors.
“In the not-too-distant future, we’re likely to be twice the size or larger [in population] than Travis County,” Cedar Park City Councilman Don Tracy said. “And it’s also no secret … that those who are moving to Williamson County—not all of them are high wage-earners. In fact, life will be tough for many of our neighbors in the future.”
Brian Kelsey, principal at the Austin-based Civic Analytics research firm, told more than 200 summit attendees that Williamson County draws newcomers chiefly from other counties in Texas and not out-of-state.
“The county is growing by about 16,000 people per year, and you’re gaining about 30 residents every day,” Kelsey said. “Like it or not, Williamson County is starting to resemble Travis County in a lot of important ways.”
One difference between the two counties though is that most Williamson County newcomers earn less than existing county residents. Many of the new high-tech jobholders who are moving to Travis County earn a median annual household income of $240,000, he said.
“Living-wage job growth [is needed]—I cannot emphasize this enough,” Kelsey said. “This by far has to be the No. 1 economic development priority, in this county, in Travis County and every other county that’s experiencing the rapid rise in cost of living.”
Most working adults in Williamson County do not have college degrees and will have difficulty finding local jobs that pay at least $17 an hour—the living wage for one adult with one child, he said.
Such underemployment contributes to the growing nationwide problem of poverty in suburban areas, said Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “Confronting Suburban Poverty in America.” Williamson County will need higher-paying jobs and must improve residents’ access to public transportation, workforce training and nonprofit resources, she said.
LeAnn Powers, chief professional officer for the United Way of Williamson County, which co-sponsored the event, said a half-million new neighbors with transportation and job needs should be a concern for all residents.
“We cannot neglect this reality,” Powers said. [Emphasis added]
The need for everyone to work together to solve these issues was stressed over and over. And the need for transportation and infrastructure were mentioned as well.
Councilmen Tracy’s statement that “life will be tough for many of our neighbors in the future”was amazingly stark. Especially with all the rosy talk we hear from our elected officials in Texas about how great things are here. It’s like he’s resigned to the fact that there’s going to be a significant part of the population in Williamson County that will be, what’s called these days, working poor.
While a living wage needs to be part of the solution, just the mention of it is probably enough to make most, if no all, elected officials in Williamson County scream Socialism or worse. Education wasn’t mentioned in the article, but that certainly needs to be a priority too.
With more people comes more needs and responsibilities. We must have the leadership in place that can handle it. Williamson County, from what was said at this summit, appears to be a place where those who can’t afford to live in Austin and Travis County will reside. It means the affluent from out of state and around Texas will move there. While those who can’t afford it, because of a lack of earning capacity, will move to Williamson County.
Raising wages, especially in a time when rising inequality is a major issue throughout the nation, should be an easy part of the solution. Large majorities, across party lines, support raising the minimum wage. At the very least to $10.10, but likely higher. And should be a no-brainer for anyone running for office.
To try and remedy this situation local governments, employers, social and human service agencies, and the people will need to work together for a solution. It will also take assistance from the federal and state government as well. But in Texas, (see Medicaid Expansion), the state is likely to be of little assistance. Hopefully a summit like this will bring much needed awareness to these issues.
Presentations and materials from the summit are available here.
The 36-member congressional ballot is just as imbalanced, with three runoffs (all Republican) next month and only one obviously competitive November race, in the 23rd Congressional District, where freshman Democrat Pete Gallego of Alpine is the incumbent. Democrats are starting to talk hopefully about the chances for Wesley Craig Reed, the challenger to U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. That district, CD-27, was drawn to favor Republicans, however, and part of Reed’s challenge will be to overcome that advantage in a midterm election year with an unpopular Democratic president in office.
That’s the problem for challengers with these maps: Barring the unexpected — scandal, death, resignations that come too late for candidates to be replaced — most races will be over by the end of next month, if they aren’t over already.
Those are most of the caveats, along with the usual one: It’s early, and things will change. All that said, here is an early list of House races to watch in November, mostly because they are in the handful of swing districts that remain on the map.
HD-105: Republican state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown of Irving lost her primary to former Rep. Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie in March. He’ll face Libertarian W. Carl Spiller and the winner of a Democratic runoff in a district where both major parties think a win is possible.
HD-107: Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, is being challenged by Democrat Carol Donovan.
HD-113: Rep. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, is being challenged by Democrat Milton Whitley.
HD-43: Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, will face Democrat Kim Gonzalez.
HD-23: Democratic Rep. Craig Eiland of Galveston isn’t seeking another term, leaving this open seat to either Republican Wayne Faircloth or Democrat Susan Criss.
HD-117: Democratic Rep. Philip Cortez of San Antonio will face Republican Rick Galindo.
HD-144: Rep. Mary Ann Perez, D-Houston, is being challenged by Republican Gilbert Peña.
HD-41: Rep. Bobby Guerra, D-Mission, will face Elijah Israel Casas in this marginally Democratic district.
HD-149: Rep. Hubert Vo, D-Houston, is being challenged by Republican Al Hoang in a district that Vo has managed to defend — narrowly — several times.
Keeping score? That list includes four seats currently held by Republicans that the Democrats would like to take away, and five Democratic seats that the Republicans hope to grab. At the extremes, that would mean the Texas House would convene with 91 to 100 Republicans and 50 to 59 Democrats in January 2015 — about where it is today.
That’s what Ramsey had to say, here’s and excerpt from Kuff.
I’ll stipulate that once the runoffs are settled, so too are the vast majority of legislative races. There’s always the possibility of a surprise, as the story notes, but barring anything unforeseen, all the action this year will be statewide and in the counties. That’s just not what the pattern has been over the past decade, but it’s a testament to the power of the 2011 redistricting. I suspect it’s one part access to more accurate data and more powerful computers, and one part more rapid demographic change in various districts last decade, but right now these maps have the feel of permanence, barring court-mandated changes, until 2021.
That’s a pretty sad reality if this is what our “democracy” has become. And it most certainly has. The end of the primary season is pretty much the end of the election. And thus far very few Texans have taken the opportunity to vote.
It’s sad locally because in Williamson County we have two great candidates for Texas House in Chris Osborn in HD-52 and John Bucy in HD-136. After 2010 the GOP made HD-52, where Democrat Diana Maldonado won in 2008, more GOP-friendly. And it was hoped that HD-136 might be a friendly district for Democrats. They both ran in the 55R – 42D range. One interesting element is that both races have a Libertarian, that will likely garner 4-6% of the vote. (There’s a Democrat, Steve Wyman, running in HD-20, but that district is drawn to heavily favor the GOP).
Obama ran better then the state and county average in 2012, in both HD-52 and HD-136, but not by much. It will be interesting to see how the candidates, the WCDP, BGTX and the Davis campaign can move the needle in these districts. It would certainly be nice to see the TDP put some money into these two races in Williamson County.
Of course it would be great to win these races in 2014. The numbers need to start reflecting what many on the left think – that Texas is a non-voting state. The most important thing is to see the gap between Democrats and Republicans shrink in many of these races. This election will be one part of a years-long struggle to get Democrats back in office in Williamson County.
In what they categorized as a legal and ethical matter rather than a political one, a group of about 25 Williamson County Democratic Party loyalists gathered on the east steps of the county courthouse Friday to condemn Williamson County Commissioners for their hiring practices in the Robert Lloyd constable application case.
“These questions violated all our freedoms by an obvious effort to create government that enforces a predetermined religion or political belief in Williamson County,” said Tom Mowdy, a Democrat candidate for the Precinct 4 seat currently occupied by Republican Ron Morrison.
“These questions were obviously deliberate and purposeful acts designed to eliminate job applicants who expressed religious and political beliefs that the Commissioners did not share,” Mowdy added.
“We are calling on the Commissioners Court of Williamson County to cease and desist their illegal hiring practices and their unethical treatment of job applicants,” rally organizers said in a press release provided to the Taylor Press. The group said they are also asking for commissioners to “apologize for discriminatory hiring practices.”
Protesters said they were demanding that Williamson County settle out of court, which they said will be much less costly than letting the case proceed through the courts — particularly since two other individuals have now joined the suit.
“Williamson County citizens have been saddled with the highest per capita debt in Texas, and this case will cause our citizens to pay even more for their freedom,” Mowdy told supporters.
Mike Custer, another veteran, who is running for Williamson County Judge as a Democrat, told supporters that monetary compensation is not a primary objective in the lawsuit.
“This is not about money, it’s about doing the right thing,” said Custer. “The plaintiffs are asking for commissioners to receive human resources training (and) to have the county’s human resource director present in hiring interviews. It’s about protecting everyone’s civil rights”, Custer said. He added compensation for the plaintiffs’ legal fees is also being sought.
But that didn’t stop Williamson County commissioners from asking those very questions when they were interviewing candidates for the Precinct 3 constable vacancy. And now, one of those candidates is suing them for violating his constitutional rights.
This has been one of the few responses to this lawsuit from an elected official.
When asked about the interview questions in May, Williamson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Valerie Covey said those rules don’t apply in this situation.
“In general, this is a process that is different than a normal employment interview because it is an elected position,” Covey said.
“We wanted to make sure the candidate could not only do the job as constable, but also handle the rigor of political life,” Covey said.
This is another instance of the commissioners in Williamson County going too far because they have no check on their power, one party government. There was no need for commissioners to do this. They can easily tell whether someone is a partisan by their primary voting history, which is public record. The main issue for a job like this should be whether someone has the qualifications for the job. Unless, of course, all they care about is whether someone is an absolute party hack.
The biggest loser besides David Dewhurst in yesterday’s primary was the recent UT/TT poll. They had Dewhurst 37%, Patricke 31%…and the actual results were Dewhurst 28% and Patrick 41%. If you go down the line, Democratic race for US Senate, and the GOP races for AG and Comptroller were equally as bad for UT/TT poll.
The race for governor is set, it’s official, it will be Democrat Wendy Davis taking on Republican Greg Abbott.
Many times in runoffs the person that came in second wins. But in Dewhurst’s case this is three races in a row getting below 50% in a GOP primary. That’s has to say something about how GOP voters feel about Dewhurst. There is no more important race moving forward for Democrats then Leticia Van De Putte‘s race for Lt. Governor of Texas. Texas Rush, aka Dan Patrick, is not something Texas needs. PDiddie had the to say about The Dew’s troubles.
Dan Patrick led nearly every urban county. He steamrolled Dewhurst and will finish him off in May. For comparison’s sake, Dewhurst led Ted Cruz 45-34 in 2012′s US Senate primary, and Cruz won the runoff with 56-43. Dewhurst actually lost almost two percentage points in the runoff.
The worst enws of the election is that it will be a former GOP donor millionaire (David Alameel) vs. a LaRouchie (Kesha Robers) in the US Senate runoff on the Democratic side. Alameel, no matter his faults, is the better choice.
In Williamson County there were no big stories or surprises. On the Democratic side Karen Carter won reelection as County Chair of the Williamson County Democratic Party. On the GOP side Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ron Morrison won his primary and the right to face Democrat Tom Mowdy in November. And Kevin Stofle will stay on as Constable in Precinct 3.
The Tribune has a round up and Texas Senate and House primaries. The tow big take-aways from the GOP primaries are that moderates can no longer win in the Texas GOP primary, and that it’s impossible to be too right wing in the GOP primary.
Here’s James Morre’s take on yesterday, Texas Political Junkie. His thoughts on Texas Rush are particularly worth reading.
Patrick, a former sportscaster at a Houston TV station where I spent a decade as a reporter, said last night after his victory that he is “never surprised by the power of God.” It wasn’t quite God who went to the polls, though; it was the Tea Party voters who had been analyzed out of relevance by the national media. Those voters like someone sitting in the state’s most powerful political office that wants creationism taught in textbooks and thinks the idea of exceptions in abortion laws for rape and incest are absurd. When Patrick takes up the gavel in the state senate, his priorities will have little to do with economics and will be much about social issues.
There will legislation trying to undo everything ever accomplished by President Obama, the Ten Commandments will be on the backs of school textbooks, there will be entire chapters on our 6000 year-old planet and how dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth together, women will have to go to Mississippi to find modern parenting and birth control services, and the Texas-Mexico border will look about as inviting as the Korean demilitarized zone by the time Patrick finishes pushing his agenda through the Texas senate.
And Patrick almost certainly be handed the gavel, if historic voting trends are not upturned.
There’s some good news in early voting numbers for Williamson County Democrats. And not so good news for the GOP.
In comparison to 2010, the last mid-term election, early vote turnout is up (37%) for Democrats and down (5%) for Republicans in Williamson County. Here are the final day total links from the Texas SOS for both elections, 2010 and 2014. The GOP still holds a large lead in overall turnout.
Here’s the overall turnout numbers.
Democrats 2014 4,044 | 2010 – 2,943 | up 1,101
GOP 2014 – 13,728 | 2010 – 14,463 | down 735
The other interesting number was the increase in mail-in ballots. In 2012 there were a little over 650 combined and in 2014 there were around 3,250. It will be interesting to find out if this a result of the Texas GOP Voter ID law.
The better numbers for the Democrats may be due to local registration and GOTV efforts, along with Battleground Texas. Also some new voters due to the Wendy Davis filibuster last summer. Maybe the lower numbers for the GOP is due to some quelling of the tea party fire.
No matter it’s a good sign to see Democratic turnout up in a mid-term election year, with very few competitive races on the primary ballot. If you haven’t voted yet be sure to get out on Tuesday.
This year, 364,952 Republicans and 224,676 Democrats from the state’s 15 largest counties voted early in Tuesday’s primary, state records show. Early voting ended Friday.
While still trailing, more Democrats voted early this year than in the past two primary elections, prompting party officials to say their momentum is growing and they hope to find more success than in the past.
“We are voting more than we have in 2010 and 2012, which is especially exciting,” said Deborah Peoples, who heads the Tarrant County Democratic Party. “As a Democrat, I have to believe that 2014 is going to be our year. You can’t say to wait 10 years. You have to work hard for it to be right now, this year.”
Significant this year, Peoples said, is that Democrats are heading to the polls.
“Republicans have all these contested primaries,” she said. “We have so many candidates in noncontested races, and people are turning out. Not only that, but we are seeing an uptick in the vote in some areas.
“We are seeing Democrats vote.”
Now party leaders need to make sure Democrats stay engaged, especially in Tarrant County, which many view as a bellwether of the state’s political leanings.
“We refuse to cede Tarrant County,” Peoples said. “We have to start believing every part of this county has great Democrats in it. There are Democrats all over Tarrant County, and we will find them and get them out to vote. This very well could be the year.”
It’s obvious they weren’t talking to the people in their districts because they mostly talked about things that don’t matter in the daily lives of their constituents. Schwertner is taking credit for balancing the budget, cutting taxes and “beg[inning] to address the long-term infrastructure needs of the state of Texas”. It’s a very meager beginning, to start the process of digging out from a decade of GOP neglect. He then talked about the decision not to expand Medicaid, and likely wanting to cut it in the future.
“Medicaid spending is growing at 2.5 times the rate of other aspects of the budget. That is simply unsustainable,” he said. “Eventually you’ll have to make tough decisions as to how to allocate your resources because obviously the needs of education, transportation and criminal justice have to be addressed as well.” [Emphasis added]
When it came to education Larry Gonzales wanted to make it seem like Texas has been prioritizing education.
“Funding our schools and funding our colleges is one of the most important things we do as a state. It all starts with having our students ready to go to work and ready to make a living and ready to be part of that tax structure,” he said. “As long as education remains the No. 1 part of our budget, I’m very happy about that because I think that’s where our priority should be.”
Gee, that all sounds great but I don’t know what state he’s talking about. Funding for schools is the most important thing, where education remains No. 1? That damn sure isn’t Texas. The GOP has always had it out for public eduction, and it shows in Texas. Tax cuts trump everything in importance, every good member of the Texas GOP knows that’s really No. 1 , come on!
He also spoke to the dropout rate.
“The dropout and truancy rates of minority students is absolutely unacceptable, so what can we do to keep these kids in school? What can we do to make sure they’re not dropping out at 15 and 16 and they’re finishing and when they’re finishing at 18 years old that they’re ready to go to work?”
One of the best ways to keep kids in school is to keep their parents involved in their education, and keeping the families out of poverty. To do that making sure the parents aren’t having to work all the time just to put food on the table must be a priority. Which is happening way too much in Texas, Too Many Working Mothers in Texas Trapped in Low-Wage Jobs.
“With too many working mothers facing barriers to career advancement, Texas has the opportunity to embrace proven tools to increase education and incomes for working mothers,” said Don Baylor, Jr., senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “In addition to investing more resources, we should embrace strategies we know are successful, like child care for working parents, and other two-generation approaches to move these families up the economic ladder, which would not only improve the bottom line for these families, but also boost the economic and job activity throughout our state.”
While the report will not come to a surprise for many who understand the very real and desperate health care and financial security needs for Texans that our current state government has not sufficiently provided, it does set a clear trajectory of policy initiatives well within the grasp of Texas policy makers to provide real solutions for low-income working mothers in our state.
Tony Dale was all over the drilling boom in Texas.
“The cycle that we’re in now, the boom in oil is not going to stop anytime soon,” he said. “Forty-eight percent of land rigs in the United States are in Texas and we’re at the highest production in 20 years. I like to say that because of our production we’re actually outproducing Saudi Arabia at this point, so Saudi Arabia is the Texas of the Middle East.”
For Texas’ sake we better hope he’s right. Because if it wasn’t for the boom, who knows what economic shape our state would be in today. It’s good that the state is piling up money in the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), aka Rainy Day Fund, from the booming oil and gas drilling. While that money sits there our health, education, and infrastructure needs fester. And it must be realized that there are serious costs associated with the boom that are not being addressed. From Texas Sharon, The Fracking Big Gulp.
The “marriage” of two old technologies, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, has fueled a new, national drilling boom. But these newlywed technologies, sometimes called unconventional drilling, remain experimental. We lack sufficient science to know how to extract shale oil and gas safely while adequately protecting public health and the environment and minimizing climate impacts. What we do know is that human health, property and well-being and the environment, and the global climate are suffering because of fracking.
Complaints are widespread and have risen in tandem with a veritable gold rush of new natural gas wells – now numbering over 493,000 across 31 states. Fracking is also fueling opposition–even in Texas, a state known for supporting the oil and gas industry–that grows in direct proportion to drilling expansion.
Texans are now having to deal with issues of earthquakes, waste disposal, air pollution, and torn up roads, just to name a few.
There was no discussion of the issues that matter to most people. Affordable higher education, returning funds to public education, raising the minimum wage, inequality, transportation, and immigration reform just to name a few.
It’s no surprise that these incumbent politicians are trying to toot their horns to their donors and base. But it’s also quite striking how their concern for the people are completely missing. That’s due to the fact that so many people who are being left out by these guys decisions don’t show up to vote. In order to fix the problems of the people, the people must show up and vote. If that happens our politicians will have much more concern for the people’s problems.