Welcome to another Texas vs. California update!
Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category
This is slightly oldish news. If you follow this blog, you know that former California Democratic State Senator Leland Yee was was sentenced to five years of prison after pleading guilty to one count of racketeering. However, until today I was not aware where he ended up doing his time, assuming he would be sent to one of the many federal prisons in California.
Nope. Actually ended up at FCI Ft. Worth, a low-security prison (maybe that was part of his plea agreement).
I can hardly resist throwing up a link to this Kevin D. Williamson National Review piece on Buc-ee’s, can I?
Over the weekend, I stopped to buy gas at a Buc-ee’s in Bastrop, Texas, and was greeted by (in addition to a man dressed as a giant aquatic rodent) an A-frame sign advertising Buc-ee’s version of the minimum wage: cashiers, $12 to $14 an hour; food-service and car-wash help, $13 to $15 an hour; team leaders, $14 to $17 an hour; assistant, $17 an hour and up. Each job came with three weeks paid time off each year, which employees are welcome to use, roll over, or exchange for cash. If you want 40 hours a week, there’s 40 hours a week to be had; if you want more than 40 hours a week, that can happen, too.
Everyone’s needs vary, of course, and I am not among those who believe that a two-income household is ideal for every situation. But I also believe that you can raise a family decently on $70,000 a year in Bastrop, where you can buy a perfectly serviceable house for less than $100,000 and where a nice, new one keeps you under the usual 2.5-times-your-income rule. Assuming a couple of raises and a bit of overtime, a married couple both working at a gas station could bring home something close to a six-figure income between them.
He mentions the kolaches but not the fudge. He also omits something the non-Texan audience wouldn’t be aware of, namely of just how large Buc-ee’s is; the Bastrop location is bigger than most supermarkets…
Today is a quadruple witching hour for markets, so try not to freak out if there’s more than the usual market volatility today.
Two Williamson County residents sued District Attorney Jana Duty on Monday, seeking to force her out of office.
The Texas Constitution, according to the lawsuit, provides that county officials may be removed for incompetency and official misconduct.
“Duty’s serial violations of court orders and the laws of the State of Texas, her history and pattern of dishonesty and untrustworthiness, and her dereliction and abandonment of her responsibilities of the office of the District Attorney have compromised the integrity and the effectiveness of the office of the District Attorney and the Williamson County criminal justice system,” the lawsuit said.
The two Williamson County residents in question are Elizabeth Latham Schleder and Thomas Joseph Madden.
The lawsuit itself offers an extensive list of Duty’s legal transgressions. Rather than listing all six pages from the PDF, here’s the Statesman summary:
The lawsuit filed Monday says Duty broke the law when she made untrue statements to defense lawyers that time stamps were not available showing the sequence of events on a video in the Crispin Harmel capital murder case.
“The District Court found the Duty’s representations regarding the video were untrue and that Duty knew they were untrue when she made the representations,” the lawsuit said.
It accuses Duty of official oppression, aggravated perjury and tampering with physical evidence by not telling the truth about the time stamps.
The lawsuit says Duty’s other acts of incompetence and official misconduct include being found guilty of contempt of court on Aug. 10, 2015, and being sentenced to 10 days in jail.
Duty also broke a gag order in the Harmel case by speaking to a television station and a Georgetown newspaper, and then lied on May 29, 2015, saying she had not spoken to them, the lawsuit said.
It said Duty has also abandoned her responsibilities as district attorney since she lost her re- election in November 2015 but continues to collect her $152,000 per year salary, the lawsuit said.
“On information and belief, since November 2015, Duty has been unavailable and inaccessible to law enforcement, judges, court staff, county officials, and District Attorney office staff,” the lawsuit said.
The only thing I don’t understand is the November 2015 date, since Duty lost to Shawn Dick in the Republican primary in March of this year.
As for Duty neglecting her duties, her sister admitted there are days when she doesn’t go into the office. Certainly there are jobs where you can do most or all of your work remotely, but I don’t think that District Attorney is one of them.
Regarding the other charges against Duty, I suspect that this particular case may be the straw that broke the camel’s back for some of those calling for her removal:
On or about May 23, 2016, the State Bar of Texas suspended Mark Brunner – First Assistant to District Attorney Duty – from the practice of law (suspension probated for one year subject to compliance with the terms of probation) for professional misconduct, to-wit: untruthful communications to the District Court in his capacity as First Assistant District Attorney for Williamson County, Texas in conjunction with the prosecution of State of Texas v. Jessee Celedon Gamboa for aggravated robbery of the Schwertner State Bank in October 2013. Specifically, the State Bar found that Brunner lied to Williamson County District Judge Donna King in February 2015 about having contacted the victims in the State of Texas v. Gamboa aggravated robbery prosecution and having secured the victims’ approval of the plea bargain agreement between the District Attorney’s office and Gamboa’s criminal defense attorney when the victims in this case had not, in fact, approved the plea bargain and Brunner had not, in fact, contacted the victims or obtained their approval of the plea bargain.
Yeah, when your DA lies about having obtained your consent to a plea bargain with the thug who robbed your bank, I can see someone taking that personally.
Here’s a piece on the arrest of the Schwertner State Bank robber. And still more here. Though several news stories mention Gamboa as possibly being the “ZZ Top Bandit,” prison records show that he’s only serving time for the Schwertner heist.
Duty supporters have said that all this is a big waste of time and that Duty will be out of office before the case ever comes to trial. However, I’m guessing that Duty is so unpopular around the Williamson County courthouse that they’ll manage to get the case fast-tracked…
Williamson County business leaders stood outside the county courthouse Wednesday morning to deliver an ultimatum to District Attorney Jana Duty: resign or be forced out.
“I, along with other community leaders, demand that Jana Duty step down and resign her position as district attorney of Williamson County by sunset this Friday,” said Jim Schwertner, owner of Schwertner Farms, a cattle trading enterprise.
“If she does not, we will petition the court to have her removed as district attorney of Williamson County,” he said.
If Schwertner’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he’s a distant cousin to state senator Dr. Charles Schwertner of Georgetown.
Another official who has called for her to resign is Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross. “We still have seven months to go and we need the judiciary to be operating at 100 percent capacity, and from what we understand that’s not the case these days.”
Duty is also accused of frequently failing to show up for work.
Another officer calling for Duty to resign: County Judge Dan Gattis.
Duty continues to insist she’ll serve out her term.
The mechanisms by which a county official (including a district attorney) may be removed from office are outlined here, which defines “official misconduct” as “intentional, unlawful behavior relating to official duties by an officer entrusted with the administration of justice or the execution of the law. The term includes an intentional or corrupt failure, refusal, or neglect of an officer to perform a duty imposed on the officer by law.”
Here’s an update on the University of Texas admissions scandal and their continuing attempt to stonewall regent Wallace Hall.
Regents Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich and former chairmen Charles Miller and Gene Powell filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week backing Hall’s lawsuit against UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven. The chancellor contends that Hall is not entitled to see confidential student records of the investigation into favoritism in admissions at UT-Austin.
For those who haven’t been following the case, this Jon Cassidy piece from March lays out the issues.
Well, this is interesting: UT and A&M are part of a consortium bidding to help run Sandia nuclear weapons lab:
A consortium that includes the Texas A&M University System and the University of Texas System announced Tuesday that it will compete for the contract to operate one of the nation’s nuclear weapons labs.
The two university systems, along with the University of New Mexico, the Boeing Co. and the Battelle Memorial Institute, will bid to run Sandia National Laboratories, based in Albuquerque, N.M., officials said. Sandia, which is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, has a $2.9 billion annual budget and is currently operated by a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp.
“This collaboration is a perfect fit, leveraging the research power of stellar universities as well as the expertise of Battelle and Boeing to elevate the already remarkable development coming out of Sandia National Laboratories,” UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven said in a written statement.
The UT System, the A&M System and the University of New Mexico would provide research expertise, workforce training and independent peer review of the work done at Sandia, officials said.
I was previously unaware that UT had missed out on running Los Alamos in 2005…