The Texas Youth Commission Scandal, So Far

Posted in Criminal Justice, Corruption, 80th Legislature, Around The State at 10:35 am by wcnews

The bastion of liberal media in Texas, The Texas Observer broke the story, Hidden in Plain Sight.

Here are two from Kuff to help get us up to speed, TYC roundup and The cronyism never stops.

Vince has this post on The Human Side Of The Texas Youth Commission Scandal. Vince says this.

I have no idea how common sexual abuse of persons—particularly youths—in custody by law enforcement and correctional officers is, but it is especially troublesome because of the very nature of the positions of authority the officers hold. Correctional officers can make an already horrible experience worse for the youths in their custody should they elect to fight off such actions.

I would add that in the back of these abuser’s minds is that it will be my word against theirs, and who’s word would someone believe, a criminal juvenile offender or mine? Which adds to the deviousness of these crimes.

The other thing keeps coming to mind is would this have had any effect on last year’s election last spring or summer, and did that have anything to do with this information being suppressed. We’ll never know, but it sure could have added to the disgust for many people, especially in conjunction with the Mark Foley scandal.

Clay Robison in today’s HChron has an article that takes the everyone’s to blame apprpoach, No shortage of blame for TYC’s woes. Let’s not blame everyone because in a situation like this when everyone is blamed, then effectively, nobody get’s held responsible.

One thing everyone is in agreemnet on in this scandal is that it is going away anytime soon. So read the links in this article, familiarize youself with the scandal, and stay tuned.

TDP Does Rep. John Carter At TDH

Posted in T. Don Hutto, District 31, Williamson County at 9:16 am by wcnews

From this article, Carter weighs in on T. Don Hutto, in the TDP there’s a couple of interesting tidbits. First Rep. Carter’s take on the food:

Although he did not sample the food, Carter said CCA officials allowed him to inspect it.

“It’s very similar to the food you would find in a high school cafeteria in Taylor or Round Rock,” he said. “Green beans straight out of the can, fish or meat, pudding, fruit and cake - basic stuff that is healthy and edible.

“These people are from all over so the food is just something they aren’t used to. They weren’t telling us they were being starved.”

Carter acknowledged that in the past, the quality of meals for detainees was “not as good as it could’ve been.”

“Overall I don’t think they are getting bad food,” he said.

Don’t think? Give it a taste so you’ll know for sure. Come on John, take a bite, I dare you. Maybe he’s on a diet.

Second his take on the cost:

When asked about the price tag to house immigrants at the facility, Carter said he was stunned.

Under the county’s lease agreement with CCA, the company receives payment of about $2.8 million per month from ICE to house up to 512 inmates. The company pays the county an administrative fee of $1 per day per inmate held at the facility.

“That took my breath away,” Carter said. “Unfortunately when you are trying to do it right, that is the cost immigration is putting on the American people. It is a tremendous amount and it makes this crisis not only a human one but a monetary one.”

That, unfortunately, translates to CCA getting $33.6 million a year to run this facility and Williamson County getting a little more than $185,000 per year. I always find it humorous how little outrage there is from Republicans when corporations, especially those that contribute to them, gouge the government.


Rep. Carter Calls Worker Legislation A Joke

Posted in District 31, Congress, Around The Nation at 11:28 pm by wcnews

It’s called the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) and Rep. John Carter (R - Exxon-Mobil) voted against it.

Here are the basics of what the EFCA will do:

The EFCA has three main parts. First, it requires certification of a union once a majority of employees in a workplace have signed up for the union. Currently, after a majority of employees have requested a union, employers can force an election. This may sound democratic enough, but in fact it allows employers to use their power over workers to campaign against the union, often harassing and firing union supporters in the process.

Second, the EFCA prevents employers from dragging out negotiations on a first union contract by creating provisions for mediation and arbitration. Third, it strengthens penalties on employers who fire union supporters during union drives - such firings are illegal, but the current penalties are too small to serve as effective deterrents.

There’s more from the AFL-CIO and Speaker Pelosi called it, “..the most important labor law reform legislation of this generation.” Not to be out done ‘ol “foot-in-mouth” Carter said this in his press release:

“Such mandated card checks would result in undue intimidation and pressure on American workers,” Congressman Carter continued. “To claim that a fair, secret election could be conducted under such circumstances is a joke.”

Rep. Carter’s “secret ballot” BS argument is debunked here. The bill, unfortunately, has little chance of becoming law. It will either be filibustered in the Senate or vetoed by President Cheney Bush.

We’d sure like to hear what union workers think. Please comment below.

AAS Has Sen. Caorna’s Thoughts

Posted in Privatization, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 4:06 pm by wcnews

Ben Wear does a good job with Carona’s take on toll road hearing. Here’s a little bit:

…Carona believes the Legislature was wrong to give the Transportation Department as much license as it has to build toll roads and use excess money from those roads for other transportation projects. “Is a toll a toll, or is it to be allowed to be a tax?” Carona said. “Today’s tolls are just disguised taxes.”

Carona said he and his fellow legislators over his 19 years in the Legislature put the Transportation Department in a bad position by declining to raise the state gas tax, creating a transportation funding shortfall that now runs to the tens of billions.

“Everyone of us, myself included, are to blame,” Carona said. “But when you make a mistake, in politics just as in life, the best thing to do is correct it. It’s incumbent on us to change bad law.”

The bad law, in Carona’s view, are two massive transportation bills passed by the Legislature in 2003 and 2005. That 2003 bill, among many other things, authorized the Trans-Texas Corridor and expanded what could be done with public-private partnerships on roads.

Will any of this — raising the gas tax, limiting private road deals — happen this session? Carona is pessimistic, given that House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Williamson County, and Perry are fully supportive of what the Transportation Department has been doing.

“I believe the majority of the House and a majority of the Senate, if given the chance, would vote to substantially curtail the power of the Department of Transportation,” Carona said. “The people of Texas, the people who hired us, want change. …Whether we can make these changes this session remains to be seen.”

I didn’t watch the whole thing, but quite a bit. My head is spinning right now. I’ll try and have my final thoughts on it tonight or tomorrow.

Hearing Observation

Posted in Commentary at 12:35 pm by wcnews

A point was mad early on by one of the Stall’s of Corridor Watch that this is not just a rural issue and that a significant amount of their membership is urban. But whatever the reason almost everyone testifying is white. Why that is I’m not sure but it’s another thing to keep in mind because white people are a core constituency of the Texas GOP.

A Finer Point On Today’s Hearing

Posted in Road Issues, Commentary, Uncategorized at 12:06 pm by wcnews

As I sit and listen to this hearing one point needs to be made in this discussion. The toll road schemes are a direct result of the defunding of our states transportation system. Whether it’s a coincidence or it was a planned this way - drowning it in the bathtub - who knows.

For the last 30 years or so, since the “Reagan Revolution”, it’s been blasphemy to say you were for a tax increase, no matter how justifiable the cause. Now the GOP bears much of the blame for this but so do the people who voted them into office. Coincidentally, and this is where I’ll get into trouble, some of the same people who’s property is in the way of this project are responsible for voting these people into office. By voting for them they validated this NO TAX policy and bear some of the responsibility for this.

TxDOT is lacking money because the gas tax hasn’t been raised in 10 years. While raising the gas tax would hurt, it is much, much cheaper than these toll roads. Toll roads run by the state or another public entity would also be much, much cheaper than these toll roads. To stop these toll roads and the TTC we need to raise the gas tax and that means all those people that have been anti-tax have to change when it comes to the gas tax.

More From The Hearing

Posted in 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 11:12 am by wcnews

Ben Wear is posting on the hearing at the AAS. In one post he uses one of the his familiar refrains:

Committee chairman Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, has filed several bills this session that would roll back the authority of the Texas Department of Transportation to build toll roads and put them in the hands of private companies.


Carona has filed a bill that would increase the state gas tax by tying it to the increase in road construction costs.But the Senate cannot initiate tax increase legislation. Carona would have to amend a House bill instead, and there is a candidate. That bill is more modest, however, allowing the gas tax to increase only with the consumer price index.

Will either pass, or be signed by Gov. Rick Perry? The odds remain low on that.

Mr. Wear always points to the fact that it will be next to impossible for anything to pass or, much less, be signed by the governor. While the ultimate goal is to stop the TTC, it’s certainly realistic to realize that it probably will not be stopped this session. But what’s most important is to get everyone on the record. But the beauty of having these bills and having them in the process is that it will show the public - who is paying very close attention now - who will not allow their will to be done - the TTC to be stopped. If these bills do not come forward in either or both chambers it will be because the leadership of those chambers or committee votes or floor votes will not allows it. Those votes will show who did not allow these to move forward. And one thing even Ben Wear can’t deny is that those opposed to the TTC have serious passion and are watching closely. Those political moves will have consequences and this time, as this hearing is showing, everyone will be very aware of what they are voting for or against.

In 2008 they will all be held to account for their votes. If these schemes are allowed to proceed it won’t be because of Democrats. It will be because the Republicans, in conjunctions with corporations, will not allow them to be stopped. And as said before, if these deals are allowed to proceed, this will mark the beginning of the end of Republican dominance of politics in Texas. And that Mr. Wear is what these hearings and this legislative session will show.

Transportation Hearing Today

Posted in 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Around The State at 9:07 am by wcnews

You can watch it live here.

Pat Driscoll has some of the most eye-opening nuggets from recent Auditor’s report at Move It!

From watching the beginning of this hearing it’s become clear that to end the TTC and stop toll roads the public has become informed and will be more than willing to allow an increase in the gas tax to allow tolls and the TTC to go away. I guess it’s possible to say that that may be the best thing to come out of the TTC plan, an engagded public on transportation policy. It also goes to show what people will do when their most treasured resources are threatened. That’s not meant in a threatening way it’s just to say that many in this government thought they could just sneak this through and they were, to my great delight, mistaken.

Two more things:

I hope Rep. Mike Krusee is watching and no elected official, when this hearing is over, will be able to say they no longer understand what’s the TTC is all about.


Krusee v. Ogden

Posted in SD 5, 80th Legislature, Road Issues, Williamson County at 1:28 pm by wcnews

An updated AAS article on Sen. Ogden’s statements on TxDOT and tolls has some rebuttal comments from last term Krusee:

Perry’s office and state Rep. Mike Krusee, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, defended the state’s toll road policy.

“The Legislature, including Sen. Ogden, had denied our cities adequate funding for transportation for years,” said Krusee, R-Williamson County. “If we now remove the only effective tool, it’s our cities and our citizens, not TxDOT, who will be harmed, with more congestion, more pollution and less economic opportunity.”

He said that to abandon the state policy would return Texas to the days of 20-year highway projects.

Krusee’s legislative district includes part of Williamson County, which is in Ogden’s Senate district.

Krusee noted that toll roads Texas 130, Texas 45 and the Loop 1 extension have been built since the 2003 bill that he and Ogden co-sponsored.

“It’s ironic that, after the senator’s district benefited with literally billions of dollars of projects, he would prevent other cities from benefiting, too,” Krusee said.

I’ll leave the rebuttal to McBlogger who does much better than I could:

Read the rest of this entry »

A Rudderless Session So Far

Posted in 80th Legislature, Commentary, Around The State at 11:03 am by wcnews

After reading these three articles - Budget writers waiting for Perry, Perry’s struggles stem from inability to build coalitions, and Legislative session lacking defining focus - this legislative session, at this point and time, is in desperate need of leadership. Uh oh. Especially when you read comments like this about Gov. Perry’s $100 million for border security:

Key House budget writers say Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t given them a blueprint for spending his highly touted $100 million proposal for new border security funds or even formally requested money for the agencies that would do the work.


“I’m really worried that the governor’s staff may have dropped the ball for him,” said Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham. “I’m trying to find out who dropped the ball,where is the money supposed to be placed and is there really a plan? I don’t want to just say, ‘Here’s $100 million, go spend it.’ “

Rep. Kolkhorst is certainly being very accommodating of the governor by blaming his staff. There’s more:

“His budget has no standing in law. Only ours does,” said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, Appropriations chairman. “I think all of us know we’ve got a border security problem. We just want to know where the money’s going. So it’s reasonable for us to require him to tell us what you’re going to do with the money.”

He said Perry’s office had made no formal request to the panel for the $100 million.

“Maybe it just was an ad. A campaign ad,” said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, of Perry’s border-security proposal.

Kolkhorst said, “I am confident that the governor did not run on an issue and (then) is not going to fulfill it. I’m confident that this governor has said publicly he needed $100 million for border security, and I am confident that that was not rhetoric.”


Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, said budget writers may have to re-examine the DPS portion of the state budget proposal they’re crafting to accommodate Perry’s detailed proposal when it arrives.

“I think something slipped through the cracks. I think it was the governor’s intention to ask for $100 million for border security. … We’re going to try to put it back together,” she said. “It’s not too late.”

I hear you talking Rep. Kolkhorst but Perry’s actions sure look like border security was an election year ploy.

It definitely seems that Gov. Perry, trying to use his 39% showing in last year’s election as a mandate, to executive-order his way into relevance, is not working:

All this [his recent political failures] follows one of Mr. Perry’s most successful political years. His school finance and tax overhaul package was adopted as law. And he was easily re-elected in a five-way race for governor, though he only got 39 percent of the vote.

The political climate has changed for Mr. Perry, and it all appears to stem from his aggressiveness.

And Harvey Kronberg wraps it up this way:

It is still relatively early in the session, but the unmistakable feeling is that the leaders are all, to some degree, lame ducks and no longer inspire the fear that is a key component to legislative leadership.

After all, most legislators got more votes in their districts than did Perry in the last election. Craddick could not have been re-elected speaker without the aid of a dozen House Democrats who are now all looking over the shoulder at future primary challengers. A few more losses of his team in the next election and there may be a vacancy in the speakers office. And Dewhurst needs to take care of his senators if he expects to count on their loyalty in a gubernatorial face-off with Kay Bailey Hutchison.

For the last four years, the Legislature has been dominated from the top down. We are finally seeing some pushback — that’s a novel, but healthy sign.

Lame-duck leadership and a rudderless session. That’s the consensus so far.

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