Archive for the ‘Texas’ Category

Belated News: Grand Jury No-Bills John Daub

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

I missed this good news when it came out on June 2, but a Travis County Grand Jury has declined to indict John Daub in the self-defense shooting death of a home intruder who turned out to be autistic.

And his blog, Stuff from Hsoi, is available again.

Hutto Police Officer Murdered On Duty

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Hutto police Sergent Chris Kelly was was killed in the line of duty today after being run over by a suspect during a traffic stop. (The suspect is in custody.) Kelly was a USAF veteran, and left behind a wife and two children.

Police work is deeply necessary for civilized society, and occasi0onally very dangerous…

Texas vs. California Update for June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

It’s been a while since I did a Texas vs. California update, so this is going to be a meaty one:

  • The Texas Comptroller has released a 50 state overview of how Texas stacks up to other states. There’s a lot of information to mine there. A few nuggets”
    • Texas ranks first as the best state for business, while California ranks 50th.

    • Texas ranks as the best state for net migration; California ranks 49th.
    • There are area in need of improvement. Texas ranks 49th in states whose residents over 25 hold high school diplomas. California? 50th.
  • Texas has enjoyed 100 straight months of unemployment below the national average. (Now it’s 101 months, but I can’ find a link right at the moment.)
  • The previously mentioned California pension reform ballot initiative has been filed.
  • Can it help California voters avoid pension armageddon?
  • “Low Taxes And Economic Opportunity In Texas Lead To Youth Population Boom.”
  • I was unaware that CalPERS owns its own planned community in Mountain House, California, and which it’s invested more than $1 billion in. A community that in 2008 was the most underwater in terms of mortgages in the entire country, and which was estimated to be worth only $200 million at some point. And now their water is being cut off due to the drought. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Speaking of the drought, California is running on empty:

    We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems — from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River — that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population. Without them, Atherton would look like Porterville.

    Quiet engineers in the shadows make it all work; the loud activists in the media seek to make it unwind. These transfers have sterling legal authority and first claims on mountain and northern state water. If Latinos in Lemon Cove are going without household water, Pyramid Lake on I-5 or Crystal Springs Reservoir on 280 are still full to the brim.

    Why then do those who have access to water delivered in a most unnatural way seek to curtail supplies to others? In a word, because they are either ignorant of where their own water comes from or they have not a shred of concern for others less blessed, or both. We will confirm this ethical schizophrenia should a fifth year of drought ensue. Then even the most sacrosanct rights of transferred water will not be sufficient to accommodate the San Francisco and Los Angeles basins. Mass panic and outrage will probably follow, and no one will care a bit about the delta smelt, or a few hundred salmon artificially planted into the San Joaquin River watershed, or a spotted toad that holds up construction of an urgently needed reservoir.

    The greens who pontificate about the need to return the San Joaquin watershed to its 19th-century ecosystem will become pariahs. When the taps run dry in Hillsborough and Bel-Air, very powerful people will demand water for their desert environs, which will in fact begin to return to the deserts that they always were as the thin veneer of civilization is scraped away.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Hey, remember how California’s are always saying “Sure, Texas has lower taxes, lower cost of living, and better job growth, but California’s awesomely moderate weather beats Texas’ summer heat hands down!”?

    Yeah, not so much this year… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)

  • California legislature votes to reinstate Kelo-like seizure of private property for private development use. Shamefully, 12 Republicans joined Democrats to vote for eminent domain abuse.
  • “Pension payments are starving basic city services.”
  • A Marin County grand jury wants more openness about government employee salaries and pensions. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Of the four “minority majority” states, minorities in Texas are doing best.
  • California farm workers are suing to get the United Farm Workers out of their lives and pockets.
  • Among cities with high prices and stagnant wage growth, California has the nine worst, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Jose.
  • Because California homes just didn’t cost enough already, new energy regulations are going to make them even more expensive.
  • The San Bernardino sheriff’s department has used a “stingray” to capture cell phone communication over 300 times in the past year or so without a warrant.
  • Apple continues expanding in Austin.
  • Texas is one of the states General Electric might leave Connecticut for.
  • California-based retailer Anna’s Linens files for Chapter 11.
  • California holding company Premier Ventures uses yet another bankruptcy filing to prevent an Akron, Ohio mall from being sold at auction. (Previously.)
  • Not news: California bankruptcy filing. Still not news: From a fraud judgment. News: For a lawsuit first filed in 1989.
  • Public Integrity Unit Oversight Removed From Travis County

    Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

    Democrats won’t be able to launch partisan witch hunts against statewide Republican officeholders from the Travis County Prosecutor’s Office anymore, as Governor Greg Abbott has signed the bill stripping oversight of the statewide Public Integrity Unit from the Travis County prosecutor’s office

    “Under House Bill 1690, the Public Integrity Unit would be shifted from Travis County to the Texas Rangers – part of the Department of Public Safety – which would take charge of investigating alleged corruption among public officials. District attorneys from the home county of the accused would prosecute the cases.”

    Travis County Democrats in general, and District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg in particular, have only themselves to blame. Both Lehmberg and equally partisan predecessor Ronnie Earle have pursued vindictive and flat-out-fraudulent cases against Republican officeholders, from Rep. Tom Delay (accused of violating a law that hadn’t been enacted at the time, and whose conviction was overturned and converted into an outright acquittal) to Kay Bailey Hutchison.

    But it was Rosemary Lehmberg’s actions that pretty much sealed the fate of the Public Integrity Unit. The video of following her DUI arrest (when she decided that rolling around Austin with an open bottle of vodka in the car and a blood alcohol level of .239 would just be a swell idea) lead to Governor Rick Perry demand for her to resign. When she refused, Perry carried through with his threat to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit, at which point the Travis County prosecutor’s office indicted Perry for using his constitutionally enumerated veto powers.

    If it hadn’t been for Lehmberg’s poor judgment and criminal activity, and and the grossly partisan overreach of herself and Earle, the legislature would never have felt compelled to act.

    Given the sterling reputation of the Texas Rangers, the unit is now in far better hands, and the move to their oversight takes effects September 1.

    Governor Abbot Signs Emergency Prep Sale Tax Holiday Into Law

    Monday, June 22nd, 2015

    Put this in the category of news that didn’t make the news.

    You may recall mention of two sales tax holiday bills working their way through the legislature.

    The good news is that SB904, the emergency/preparation bill, was signed by Governor Abbott on June 15. While the law itself takes effect on September 1, the first day of the actual sales tax holiday for the enumerated emergency prep items is the last weekend in April, which in 2016 will be April 23-24. At the very least, consider it a good weekend to stock up on batteries.

    As to why no news outlet seems to have even mentioned this fact in passing, I couldn’t tell you.

    The bad news is that it appears both HB 849 and SB 228 died in committee before the end of the legislative session. Since n special session is currently planned, it seems unlikely there will be a hunting and guns sales tax holiday any time in the next two years.

    Gov. Abbott Signs Open and Campus Carry Bills

    Saturday, June 13th, 2015

    This afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Open Carry and Campus Carry bills into law at Red’s Indoor Range in Pflugerville. (I can tell you from experience that it’s hard enough to get a shooting lane at Red’s even when the governor isn’t there.)

    Note that as per the actual text of the open carry bill, open carry for CHL holders goes into effect January 1, 2016. I’ve seen various commentators cite a date of September 1st, but that’s just the date for various Texas agencies to have administrative plans in place for complying with the new regulations. So don’t go wearing your holsters in public on September 1st, or you’re likely to receive a very rude awakening…

    Kroll Report Whitewashed Low LSAT Scores at UT Law

    Friday, June 12th, 2015

    Remember the Kroll Report, the look into the University of Texas’ system of preferential admissions for unqualified friends and relatives of the well-connected? The one that showed UT Regent Wallace Hall was right and his critics were wrong?

    Now it turns out that the Kroll report whitewashed some aspects of the UT scandal, namely how low the LSAT scores were for some of those well-connected applicants:

    “Of 6,155 admitted applicants from 2010 to 2014, only four were admitted with an LSAT score below 150,” Kroll reported. Also, “During the time period reviewed, we found only two applicants who were admitted with both an undergraduate GPA below 3.0 and LSAT score below 155; however, both applicants belonged to an under-represented minority group and had valuable public sector experience before applying to law school.”

    Actually, Kroll found dozens of students with LSAT scores below 150, and even found three students admitted during the Powers years with scores in the 130s.

    Snip.

    It’s impossible to say now exactly how many underqualified students were admitted, as UT redacted the tallies. We can say that in 2004, UT Law admitted at least one person with each of the following scores: 137, 140, 141, 144, 147, 148 and 149.

    In 2005, UT Law admitted at least one person with each of the following scores: 137, 140, 141, 143, 144, 147, 148 and 149.

    In 2006, the low scores recorded were 137, 141, 143, 146, 147, 148 and 149.

    So who ordered the Kroll to spike its findings?

    “Vice Chancellor Dan Sharphorn oversaw the report. He reports directly to Chancellor Bill McRaven.”

    Ongoing lawsuits by Watchdog.org and a Dallas Morning News columnist may succeed in getting past UT’s stonewalling (“In response to a public records request, UT last week produced a key 24,536-page document from the Kroll files, with every last page redacted.”) to cast some light on the subject.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

    Waco Biker Shootout Follow-up 7

    Monday, June 8th, 2015

    Three weeks after the May 17th biker shootout, it’s still not clear who instigated the fight.

    Evidently at least 50 of those arrested have been released after their initial $1 million bail was reduced. Several hundred bikers also peacefully protested the mass arrests following the Twin Peaks shootout. Somehow bikers in Texas seem to have gotten the crazy notion in their head that “peaceful protest” doesn’t include looting local businesses…

    Members of different gangs give conflicting accounts of the shootout. Two bikers just released claim to be members of the Los Pirados motorcycle club, and claim it was the Cossacks, not the Bandidos, starting trouble. The piece also mentions three other motorcycle gangs or clubs present besides the Bandidos and Cossacks, including two (Sons of the South and American Legion Riders) that I hadn’t seen mentioned in previous reports. Combined with those listed from previous reports, that puts members of Bandidos, Coassacks, Scimitars, Vaqueros, Los Pirados, Leathernecks, Boozefighters, Sons of the South, American Legion Riders and Veterans on the scene of the shootout.

    Reason has been critical the police response to the shooting, especially since “more than 115 of the 170 people arrested in the aftermath of a motorcycle gang shootout outside a Central Texas restaurant have not been convicted of a crime in Texas.”

    A longish profile of the Bandidos, which offers conflicting accounts of their current level of criminality.

    On the one hand:

    “They tell you up front: ‘We live by our own rules. We have our own morals, code of ethics, and this is our world,’ ” said Carlos Canino, head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Los Angeles. He described the Bandidos as “a lot rougher” than the Hells Angels, but “not as outwardly sophisticated.”

    “They’ll fight at the drop of a hat,” he said of the Bandidos.

    Police contend the Bandidos have stayed involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and other crimes.

    On the other:

    Houston lawyer Kent Schaffer, who has represented Bandidos for more than 30 years, said there are more police officers indicted on felonies every year in the Houston area than Bandidos.

    He said current members are not like the men of the 1970s, “when they all had long hair, beards, missing teeth and tattoos – some of the older guys look that way, but most look like mainstream society.” They are engineers, oil field workers, computer programmers, he said, with college degrees, short hair and khaki pants.

    “Most of these people have respectable jobs, pay their taxes and don’t have felony records,” Schaffer said.

    “Most don’t have felony records” would seem to be damning with faint praise…

    Other relevant links:

  • Dutch police indicted 14 members of the Bandidos, seizing a number of weapons in the process, including five rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Now, I’m not an expert on Dutch firearms law, but I’m going to guess those are not legal in civilian hands…
  • The Republic of Texas biker rally, far and away the largest in Texas, is in Austin June 11 through 14. I’m betting the police presence will be even heavier than usual…
  • Rick Perry is in the Presidential Race

    Thursday, June 4th, 2015

    Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has joined the 2016 Presidential race and has a website up.

    As longtime governor of the most economically successful state in the union, Perry should be a serious Presidential contender, especially since he has a more impressive (and recent) story to tell than Jeb Bush.

    The problem, of course, is his poor showing in the 2012 Presidential race, which included a nationally televised “brain freeze” due to him being hopped up on goofballs following back surgery. I thought Perry was the most viable conservative candidate in the race in 2012, for all the good that did either of us. That does not appear to be the case this time around, and my choice for President right now would probably be Ted Cruz first and Scott Walker second.

    Cruz, Walker and Marco Rubio all make the case for Perry more difficult. All outflank Perry on the right in ways that Huckabee and Santorum don’t, and Cruz in particular cuts into Perry’s fundraising base.

    So while Perry should be a serious candidate, he has a much tougher row to hoe than he did in 2012…and he lost in 2012. Maybe he’s counting on the GOP’s well-known “next time around is the charm” bias (see Reagan, Bush41, Dole, McCain, and Romney), but I don’t think he did well enough in 2012 to have that sort of cachet.

    Perry is a tough and tenacious campaigner (though probably not as indefatigable as Cruz), so it’s probably unwise to count him out entirely. Still, he looks to be an even longer shot in 2016 than he was in 2012.

    Texas Legalizes Medical Cannabis Oil

    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    This was one small story in the tidal wave of session-ending bills, but Texas has now legalized medical cannabis oil.

    “Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation Monday legalizing low-THC cannabis oils as treatment for certain medical conditions.

    The Texas Compassionate Use Act from state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, will legalize oils containing CBD, a non-euphoric component of marijuana known to treat epilepsy and other chronic medical conditions. The state will regulate and distribute the oils to patients whose symptoms have not responded to federally approved medication.

    I’m a “legalize it, regulate it, tax it” sort of guy, but this is a good first step in reducing legitimate suffering without engaging in the farce that is California’s “medical” marijuana industry. “Yeah, I have a medical condition I’m suffering from! I’m not high right now!”