Is this a joke? DeMint, Coburn, Hutchinson, Brownback introduce term limits constitutional amendment. It’s has several punch lines. Of course term limits were part of the GOP’s contract on America back in ’94, and once those GOP term limit proponents got into power the issue went away. And, of course, Hutchison has had her problems with term limit promises – not kept.
Hank Gilbert on the direction of the Texas Forensic Science Commission and Perry’s penchant for secrecy. Gilbert also released his policy proposals on energy and the environment, Gilbert calls on Texas to “Go Green”.
Grits has an excellent analysis of yesterday’s Senate hearing, Defiant John Bradley rebuffed on secrecy pleas.
Mr. Bradley was the sole witness at the hearing. He seemed to thrive in the limelight with his ego swelling more and more as his performance wore on, to the point at the end of near-open defiance toward Sen. Rodney Ellis and state Rep. Tommy Merritt, the chairman of the House Law Enforcement Committee who sat in on the hearing. In many ways, it was quite an arrogant performance – answering nothing concretely and accusing (implicitly or explicitly) anyone who disagreed with him of bias. Several times Bradley spoke of the Innocence Project with a disdainful sneer as a “New York nonprofit,” as though Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas weren’t sitting just six feet behind him in the audience. As though Texans don’t really care about innocent people locked up in prison.
To dredge up a quote from an old Terry Allen song permanently ensconced in Grits’ sidebar, Mr. Bradley, “I don’t wear a Stetson, but I’m willing to bet son that I’m as big a Texan as you are.”
Bradley’s main theme, to which he returned several times, was that the Forensic Science Commission had been “hijacked” by people with anti-death penalty agendas. I kept wondering which statewide GOP official who makes appointments to the commission – Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, or Greg Abbott – does he believe aided and abetted this “hijacking”? Apparently Gov. Perry’s original appointees were to blame, since getting rid of them, we’re now told, will somehow result in depoliticizing and professionalizing the commission. Sen. Whitmire and others reminded Bradley that those “third parties” of whom he was so dismissive were actually representatives of the public, but that did nothing to mitigate the DA’s disdain.
Steve Saloom of the national Innocence Project said at a press conference after the hearing that the commission’s enabling legislation does not authorize it to create rules. He later elaborated that former Chair Sam Bassett asked the Attorney General’s representative who attended every FSC meeting whether or not they should create written rules, and the AG said they weren’t authorized to do so. The reason, said Saloom, was that “The Legislature didn’t want to create a behemoth bureaucracy. They wanted it to be composed of experts, and they wanted it to be lean.”
Saloom added, “Does [Mr. Bradley] want to add a layer of bureaucracy? … or is he just doing this to stall?” Whatever his intent, there can be no argument that the outcome is to stall.
I took away from the hearing that there’s a bipartisan consensus on the committee, at least for now, that Texas needs to confront bad forensics instead of bury the problem under a mountain of bureaucracy, procedure and doublespeak. Mr. Bradley, by contrast, appeared to be promoting quite a different agenda. Time will tell how it all plays out.