Posts Tagged ‘Austin’

Austin’s Murder Rate Up 80%

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Well, this is not good news:

Three homicides in the past 10 days. According to data from the Austin Police Department, the city’s murder rate is up nearly 80 percent from the same time last year.

The Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday believes this upward trend is something the department needs to tackle immediately.

“All you have to do is turn on the news. It seems like every night for the past several weeks its led off with shootings in north and east Austin,” said Casaday of the deadly shootings. “It reminds me of, back in the 80s and 90s, when we had a huge crime wave here in Austin.”

Of the 23 murders so far in 2016, five are unsolved.

Let’s take a look at the individual homicides this year (at least those up on the austintexas.gov website), starting with the most recent:

  • Unidentified female. “Suspects in this case have not yet been identified but are described as: One Black male, mid to late 20s, approximately 6’1” and 180-190 lbs. One Black female, late 20s to early 30s, approximately 5’9” and 220 – 240 lbs.”
  • Teqnika Moultrie, Black female (D.O.B. 11-23-85). Suspect: “Endicott McCray, a black male, 24 years of age.” (Since arrested in Atlanta.)
  • Felipe Leija, Hispanic male, D.O.B. 12-18-82. No suspects.
  • Felix Serrano, Hispanic male, (D.O.B. 11-20-50). “The only suspect description available is a Hispanic male who is thought to have been on foot around the noon hour.”
  • Alfred Matthews, black male, D.O.B. 2-24-88. “Murder charges are pending on Zachary Daniel Payne” who was apprehended, and appears to be a black male.
  • Sankirth Gundam, Asian male, (D.O.B. 5-11-92) “The suspect has been identified as 27-year-old Sai Sandeep Goud Kurremula, Asian male.” The apartment complex he was killed in is right next to the HEB I shop at.
  • Brandon D. Grant, Black male (D.O.B. 12/1/1985). “The suspect has not yet been identified.”
  • Joseph Anthony Lapaso, Hispanic male, D.O.B. 3-4-91. “APD charged Steven Johns with Murder and bond was set at $500,000.” Johns appears to be a black male.
  • Jose Angel Moreno, Hispanic male (D.O.B. 6-14-91). Though the austintexas.gov does not mention it, the suspect appears to be Bradford Gunn (a Hispanic male) and his girlfriend Brandi Nicole Harris (no description or mug shot available, mainly because the Statesman‘s booking photo gallery page is profoundly broken).
  • Gerald Leron Williams, Black male, D.O.B. 8-29-1992 (aka Ron Ron). “The assailant was described as a dark-skinned Black male, mid-20s, approximately 6 feet tall with medium build. The subject was wearing a black t-shirt and long denim shorts.”
  • Maria Ferrer-Mena, Hispanic Female (D.O.B. 10-26-1977). “The suspect is described as a Hispanic male with a light complexion, 5’8” to 6’0”, skinny build, and last seen wearing a grey hoodie sweatshirt and black basketball shorts.”
  • Russell Fulghum Jr., White male (D.O.B. 6-15-78), described as a homeless man. John Fredrick Mouton (a 22-year old black male) was charged with murder.
  • “Murder 8”: “You are not authorized to access this page.” Hmmmm. I’m guessing this was the murder of Haruka Weiser, the freshman dance major at UT, which was a national story. “Meechaiel Criner, 17, was charged with murder.” Criner is a black male.
  • Juan Jose Casimiro-Paxtor, Hispanic Male (D.O.B. 02-08-1990). “The suspect has been identified as Mario Garcia-Faustino, Hispanic male (26 years of age).”
  • Rigoberto Jose, Hispanic male (D.O.B. 02/08/1977). “The suspect has been identified as Osiel Benitez Benitez, Hispanic male, 42 years of age.” There were also two other people shot in the same incident.
  • Ishmael Mohammed, Other male (D.O.B. 12-02-1955). “Nikolas Ray Eller, White male, 38 years of age…has been charged with Aggravated Assault Felony 2.” (More info here.)
  • Jerry Don Summers, White male, (D.O.B. 06-30-61). “Suspect: Spencer Frank Carlton, White male, 52 years of age.” Also this: “The assault took place after Summers inappropriately groped Carlton’s wife while inside the Dogwood Bar located at 715 W. 6th St.” after which Carlton shoved Summers to the ground. Sounds like something that’s likely to get plead down to manslaughter, if that.
  • Carlos Swist, Black male, born 01/03/1973. “Arrested: Dedric Darnell Dixon, Black male, 44 years of age.”
  • David Loera, Hispanic Male (D.O.B. 07/31/1972). “The suspect was described as a White male, in his twenties, 5’11” – 6’0”, having a slightly muscular build, last seen wearing a camo hat, brown vest, dark long sleeved undershirt, and dark pants. The suspect vehicle was described as a newer model, dark, Chevrolet 4-door truck, possibly a 4×4.”
  • So what is the cause of Austin’s rising murder rate? Possibly just random statistical variation. Possibly the result of understaffing the police department. I considered the possibility that a “Black Lives Matter” reduction in policing and/or a refusal to deport illegal alien offenders might be factors, it’s hard to see that from the data. (And I haven’t delved into last year’s murder stats for comparison yet.)

    The city’s overall demographics are 47.1% white, 7.0% black, 36.5% Hispanic, and 6.8% Other. As elsewhere in the nation, crime victims and perpetrators of same are disproportionately black, with Hispanics slightly over-represented as both victim and perpetrator, and whites somewhat underrepresented for same.

    Texas vs. California Update for August 10, 2016

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California roundup:

  • How California screwed itself:

    Then-Gov. Gray Davis and the Legislature had quietly, virtually without notice, decreed a massive, retroactive increase in state employee pension benefits, which was quickly emulated by hundreds of local governments.

    At the time, CalPERS was ringing up big earnings from the 1990s’ bullish stock market — so big that it had reduced contributions from member governments to near zero. Public employee unions hankered for a share of the bounty and pressed for a benefit increase.

    The CalPERS board, dominated by public employees and union-friendly politicians, sponsored the increase, Senate Bill 400, with assurances that it would cost taxpayers nothing. A state Senate analysis of the bill said CalPERS “believes they will be able to mitigate this cost increase through continued excess returns of the CalPERS trust.”

    Years later, it emerged that the assurances reflected the most optimistic of several scenarios developed by the CalPERS staff. More pessimistic scenarios were kept secret — but they were the ones that came true. By the time Seeling delivered his dark appraisal in 2009, the state was being hammered by an ultra-severe recession, and the CalPERS trust fund was losing what turned out to be nearly $100 billion in value.

    Seven years later, CalPERS and other pension funds still haven’t fully recovered, and they’re sharply raising mandatory “contributions” from state and local governments to cover the gaps left by meager investment earnings.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • California is deluding itself if it thinks it’s “turned to corner” and is on the path for sustainable growth:

    Between 2000 and 2015, Austin has increased its jobs by 50 percent, while Raleigh, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Nashville, Orlando, Charlotte, Phoenix and Salt Lake City – all in lower-tax, regulation-light states – have seen job growth of 24 percent or above. In contrast, since 2000, Los Angeles and San Francisco expanded jobs by barely 10 percent. San Jose, the home of Silicon Valley, has seen only a 6 percent expansion over that period.

    Obviously this runs counter to the notion of California being business friendly, since the ratio of jobs to workers is lower here than in Texas and the rest of the United States, and sometimes a lot lower.

    Snip.

    Gov. Brown has achieved bragging rights by suggestions of a vaunted return to fiscal health. True, California’s short-term budgetary issues have been somewhat relieved, largely due to soaring capital gains from the tech and high-end real estate booms. But the state inevitably will face a soaring deficit as those booms slow down. Brown is already forecasting budget deficits as high as $4 billion by the time he leaves office in 2019. As a recent Mercatus Center study notes, California is among the states most deeply dependent on debt.

    The state’s current budget surplus is entirely due to a temporary tax and booming asset markets. The top 1 percent of earners generates almost half of California’s income tax revenue, and accounts for 41 percent of the state’s general fund budget. These affluent people have incomes that are much more closely correlated to asset prices than economic activity, and asset prices are more volatile than economic activity generally. Brown’s own Department of Finance predicts that a recession of “average magnitude” would cut revenue by $55 billion.

    More critically, the state continues to increase spending, particularly on pensions. Outlays have grown dramatically since the 2011-2012 fiscal year, averaging 7.8 percent growth per year through FY 2015-2016. Seeing the writing on the wall, the state’s labor leaders now want to extend the “temporary” income tax, imposed in 2012, until 2030. This might not do much to spark growth, particularly in a weaker economy.

    During this recovery, California has made minimal effort to eliminate the state’s budget fragility. To use a recently popular term, this is gross negligence. It is, thus, no surprise that credit ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service ranked California second from the bottom in being able to withstand the next recession. Someday the bills will come due.

  • More on California’s business climate vs. Texas:

    Note that across the entire decade the unemployment rate in California was consistently greater than that in the United States, averaging 1.5 percentage points greater overall and maxing out at 2.9 percentage points in January and February of 2011. Except for the first six months of 2006, the same story holds true for California and Texas, although the differences here are more pronounced: an average of 2.5 percentage points greater and a maximum difference of 4.2 percentage points at various points in 2009 and 2010. Also note how long double-digit unemployment persisted in California (43 months) during this decade compared to the United States (1 month) and Texas (0 months).

    Also: “Texas outperformed California in 9 of the 10 years. And Texas had a CAGR of 3.1 percent, meaning its economy grew at more than twice the pace of California’s each year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Texas’ economic, labor Market, and fiscal situation. “The Texas model leads comparable states and U.S> averages in most measures.”
  • “CalPERS has not met its expected 7.5% rate of return for the last 20 years.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Things in Texas are very different than they were in the 1980s:

    This is what Krugman and others really get wrong about the Texas miracle.

    The state had its last major recession from 1986 to 1987, after oil prices collapsed and the real estate and financial sectors crashed. Back then, the mining sector, dominated by oil and gas activity, was directly related to about 21 percent of the real private economy and roughly 5 percent of the labor force. Today, mining is 15 percent of the real private economy and less than half of the labor force share. As a result, the combination of more economic diversification and pro-growth policies has produced a much more resilient economy. Texas in 2016 looks a lot different than Texas in 1987.

  • “A major impediment to economic growth and a factor chasing people and businesses away from California is the state’s high tax rates and poorly structured tax code. California levies the highest top marginal income tax rate in the nation at 13.3% and has the country’s 6th highest overall tax burden. Such a hostile tax climate has consequences. During the last decade, from 2000 to 2010, California had a net outmigration of over 1.2 million residents move to other states. Those former Californians took over $29 billion in income with them.”

    Residents of San Diego, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and many other cities and towns across California enjoy beautiful scenery and enviably pleasant weather year round; while folks in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston ride out their hot and humid summers by staying indoors as much as possible. Yet Texas has been the number one recipient of California refugees. While the physical climates found in states that are the top recipients of California refugees don’t hold a candle to the Golden State’s, the business tax climates are far more hospitable.

    California imposes the nation’s highest income tax, while Texas is one of nine states with no income tax. While Texas has the 10th best business tax climate in the nation, according to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, California has the country’s third worst. During the last decade, over 225,000 people moved from California to Texas, bringing over $4.4 billion in income with them to the Lone Star State. After Texas, Nevada is the number two recipient of ex-Californians. Like Texas, Nevada can’t compete with California’s natural beauty and climate, but the Silver State makes up for it by having no state income tax and the nation’s 5th best business tax climate.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The deregulated energy market is still working to lower costs for Texans.
  • California’s Democrat-dominated local governments are riddled with nepotism in their hiring practices. In San Diego, “Investigators uncovered an employee vetting process they allege was ‘abused’ — so that in a third of the cases reviewed, ‘friends and family members’ of city staff were hired ‘to the detriment of public job applicants.’” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Liberal complains about how San Francisco’s progressive policies killed affordable housing. “Instead of forming a pro-growth coalition with business and labor, most of the San Francisco Left made an enduring alliance with home-owning NIMBYs. It became one of the peculiar features of San Francisco that exclusionary housing politics got labeled “progressive.” Do note this piece is from a year ago. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of San Francisco, three of the city’s supervisors have decided that he would like to take the goose that laid the golden egg (i.e., the city’s high tech employers), smother it with locally source rosemary, thyme and organic butter, and broil it at 450° in the form of a payroll tax for those companies that earn $1 million or more in gross receipts.
  • “In 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m).” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • “California To Proclaim August “Muslim Appreciation And Awareness Month.” So when do we get Christian Appreciation Month?
  • “Relocation of Highway 99 in Fresno, a key part of the bullet train project, is over budget, behind schedule and will cost millions of dollars more to complete.” (Hat tip: Cal Watchdog.)
  • DAE Systems is relocating its headquarters to Catawba County and intends to create 46 new jobs and invest $6.8 million during the next three years, Gov. Pat McCrory’s office announced Monday. The California-based company, which is moving to Claremont, will receive a grant of up to $110,000 from the One North Carolina Fund that is dependent on the company meeting job-creation goals.”
  • Nothing says “adult oversight” quite like playing strip poker with teenage camp counselors. Take a bow, Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva! (Hat tip: Dwight, who also notes that Silva is a member of the criminal-ridden “Mayors Against illegal Guns.”)
  • Noted for the record: Mayor Silva comes up twice at the very top of Stockton real estate developer Dan Cort’s Facebook page. (Previously.)
  • LinkSwarm for August 5, 2016

    Friday, August 5th, 2016

    Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm! A lot of plane and weird news links this time around:

  • Aetna is losing $300 million a year on ObamaCare. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Air Force Declares F-35 ready for combat. (Hat tip: Borepatch, who is more than a little skeptical…)
  • Islamic State Sinai leader Abu Dua al-Ansari killed in Egyptian air strike.
  • Is there any greater bastion of 1%er elitism than New York Times wedding announcements?

    How is it actually acceptable for an ostensibly liberal newspaper to conclude that wealthy, well-educated people’s lives are more interesting and worth more attention than non-wealthy, less-educated people? Everyone laughs about the Weddings section, even the Times itself. But joking aside, isn’t it morally indefensible to treat people as newsworthy in accordance with their elite social status… a paper run by liberals, who would profess themselves averse to inequality, openly treats most of the population as insignificant.

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

  • Cahnman’s Musings has a really solid review of Jane Jacobs’ classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities and how central planning screwed everything up.
  • Clint Eastwood on various liberal whining over Trump: “Just fucking get over it.”
  • Frau Merkel ist nicht sehr beliebt.
  • Austin’s toy trains are a monument to government waste. (Hat tip: Push Junction.)
  • What Pokémon Go Teaches Us About Capitalism.
  • #BlackLivesMatters is all in against Israel. So what do George Soros and Tom Steyer have against Israel? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “A point of view should be based on its own merit, not dismissed by a lazy appeal to privilege.”
  • Funny or die mostly does the latter. (Funny or Die still has 95 staffers? Really? It takes that many people to produce mediocre comedy?)
  • Things you never knew about the World’s Strongest Man competition.
  • An Exciting History of Drywall.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Who would have won the battle between a Bismarck-class battleship and an Iowa class battleship? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Butthurt level: Epic.
  • Airplane trick.
  • Feel good dog story of the day.
  • Behold the legendary crime spree of Dickface Johnson.
  • “Oh no! Not the bees!
  • Horrific Bloodbath Follows Campus Carry

    Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

    Austin, Texas, August 1: Police at the University of Texas were stunned by horrific violence unlashed by the first day of the new concealed carry law taking effect.

    A grand total of 537 fatal shootings occurred across the UT campus as minor disputes turned into deadly gun-battles, drenching the campus in a veritable river of blood. Another 932 students were suffering from wounds ranging from minor to life-threatening.

    “I knew this would happen!” said University of Texas at Austin Anthropology professor Pauline Strong, surveying the carnage. “Putting guns in the hands of lawful 21-year old American citizens immediately turns them into crazed killers!”

    With the smaller summer class size, UT police estimated that over 1,000 fatalities would occur on August 24, the first day of the fall semester.

    “When will the madness end?” asked Strong. “Oh, the humanity!”

    (Filed Under: Things That Never Happened)

    Texas Attorney General Sues Austin for Breaking the Law

    Sunday, July 31st, 2016

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is so unreasonable as to expect that the City of Austin actually obey the law, and is now suing them for failing to do so:

    Section 411.209 prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from wrongfully excluding handgun license holders from property owned or leased by the government. The law prohibits the City from providing not ice by a communication described in Texas Penal Code § 30.06, or by any sign expressly referring to that law or to a concealed handgun license, that a license holder carrying a handgun is prohibited from entering or remaining on a premises or other place owned or leased by the governmental entity unless the license holder is prohibited from carrying a handgun on the premises or other place by Texas Penal Code §§ 46.03 or 46.035. Id. § 411.209(a).

    Snip.

    On or about April 4, 2016, the Attorney General received a citizen complaint that the City was in violation of §411.209 based on: (a) the display of a permanent etched glass “no guns” sign; and (b) oral warnings prohibiting the carrying of handguns on the premises of Austin City Hall, a building that does not fall within any exception under Texas Penal Code §§ 46.03, .035.

    (Wonky spacing via PDF.)

    And this is already after they had taken down one (illegal) sign due to an earlier citizen complaint.

    Paxton is asking for $1,500 a day in fines, plus fees.

    Austin’s city government evidently feels that they have no need to comply with state law, Because Liberalism. I expect that they’re about to find that the Texas judicial system feels otherwise.

    (Hat tip: Stuff From Hsoi.)

    LinkSwarm for July 15, 2016

    Friday, July 15th, 2016

    Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm, including some recent big stories:

  • Truck plows into Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France, killing at least 84, including a father and his 10 year old son from Lakeway.
  • The murder is evidently a Muslim from Tunisia. And his name is evidently Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Try to contain your shock.
  • The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague rules against China in the South China Seas dispute. Whether China heeds the ruling is another question…
  • Another day, another Democratic congresscritter indicted. “Corrine Brown, the House rep from the 5th District of Florida, was indicted (along with Ronnie Simmons, her chief of staff) on federal charges of mail and wire fraud.”
  • Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are neck and neck in swing states.
  • “The U.S. State Department funneled tax dollars to a group that worked to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.”
  • Another ObamaCare exchange shuts down, this time in Illinois.
  • And six of the seven remaining exchanges are in trouble.
  • Philadelphia airport workers to go on strike during the Democratic National Convention.
  • Houston City Councilman calls for segregation in police shifts. Next up: Their own drinking fountains… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Previously deported illegal alien sentenced to life in prison for murder in Laredo.
  • Following in the footsteps of Annise Parker, Austin City Council wants to silence opponents who speak out on politics.
  • The left’s war on police. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • El Paso police chief Greg Allen calls Black Lives Matter “a radical hate group.”
  • University of Texas to return athletic ticket sales to a group previously proven to be corrupt.
  • Ghostbusters reboot toys already on clearance before the movie’s opening.
  • Strippers, arson and a potato. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Understatement of the Year Award:

    An inspection of the truck’s cargo revealed 169 bundles of marijuana with an estimated weight of 3,996 lbs. were on board.

    The estimated street value of the marijuana is between $1.6 million and $1.9 million. Perez was charged with Trafficking Marijuana in the Superior Court of DeKalb County, Georgia.

    Doraville Police say they are “pretty confident this would exceed personal use.”

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.

  • Texas vs. California Update for June 28, 2016

    Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

    Welcome to another Texas vs. California update!

  • California’s skyrocketing housing costs, taxes prompt exodus of residents.” “During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S.” Plus this: “The majority of the people we are seeing are moving to states that don’t have state income taxes.” And this “My husband’s salary would be in the six figures, but six figures is not enough to cover the rent, day care (and) food prices.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • The middle class can no longer afford to live in the Bay Area.
  • “Orange County’s public city employees earned $144,817 on average last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • In a completely unrelated story, lavish pension hikes have resulted in exploding levels of Orange County debt. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “City employees working full-time in Long Beach earned an average of $128,731 in total compensation last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • “A survey of 45 cities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties shows the average full-time city worker received $127,730 in pay and benefits last year.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • On paper, Nevada County, California, is technically insolvent (which is the best kind of insolvent.) (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • As good as Texas is doing compared to California’s profligacy, the people at the Texas Public Policy Foundation think the budget is still growing way too fast.
  • “Jacobs Engineering Group, one of the world’s largest engineering companies, is preparing to move employees from its Pasadena [CA] headquarters to Dallas, becoming the latest major corporation to relocate significant operations from California to Texas.”
  • “A California-based orthopedic goods manufacturer and distributor has decided to move its Ohio-based distribution hub to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which will give the company a place to significantly expand operations and possibly relocate its West Coast headquarters. The company, Santa Paula, California-based Hely & Weber, has signed a lease totaling nearly 40,000 square feet of space at 755 Regent Blvd. in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.”
  • Still more companies leaving California. Plus why the “Bernie Sanders effect” will result in a veto-proof majority for Democrats in the California legislature. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Bankrupt San Bernardino, union fight over settlement payments.” Clip and save this headline, as you’ll be able to use it again and again over the coming years…
  • Marin County pension reformer launches GoFundMe campaign to sue the county over pension increases. Though his $198,000 request strikes me as excessively optimistic…
  • Texas scores three of the top five cities (Houston, Austin, San Antonio) for U-Haul destinations. (Hat tip: Ted Cruz on Facebook.)
  • California Democrats and Social Justice Warriors conspire to drive Christian colleges out of the state. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Once again, California leads the nation…in car thefts.
  • Which lead to this: “More than 71 percent of all recovered stolen cars in 2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California were stolen by illegal aliens or by ‘transport coyotes,’ those who bring in illegals across the Mexican border.”
  • “Paul Tanaka, once one of the most powerful law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County, was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for interfering with an FBI investigation into jail abuses by sheriff’s deputies.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Oakland police chief resigns because at least 14 Oakland police officers (and 10 other law enforcement officers had sex with the same underage girl. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • And the guy Oakland found to replace him? He lasted…five days.
  • Bay Area law enforcement agencies have lost 944 guns since 2010. Maybe that’s the “gun control” Democrats should be focusing on… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Californians face rolling blackouts this summer…some of which could last as much as 14 days.
  • Shuttered California hospital files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • You could count this Silicon Valley robot pizza technology startup as a win for California, but the subtext here as that many human California pizza workers will never work a day under that new $15 minimum wage…
  • Austin Police Blotter Roundup

    Thursday, June 16th, 2016

    More Dwight’s bailiwick than mine (and I think he’s covered two of these), but several stories of interest have popped up:

  • Suspected I-35 rock thrower arrested. “The Austin Police Department has made an arrest in the rock assailant case. Patrick Eugene Johnson a former tow trucker of Austin was arrested on Thursday by APD. Johnson has been charged with Attempted Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Third Degree Felony. He is currently being held in the Travis County Jail. Bond is set at $250,000.”
  • Austin woman killed in dog attack. Seems like she entered their yard on a business matter. Address is 12316 Fay Street, which is only a couple of blocks off East Parmer, but it looks pretty rural on Google Maps. It’s considerably different than a woman in Dallas being killed by a pack of Wild dogs
  • Austin closes their DNA lab due to concerns about being able to meet new regulatory standards.
  • Lawsuit Filed to Remove Jana Duty

    Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

    Via Dwight comes news that things are moving swiftly on removing Williamson County DA Jana Duty from office:

    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…

    Jana Duty Hoist on Her Own Petard

    Thursday, June 9th, 2016

    Dwight beat me to this story on Williamson County District Attorney Jana Duty being placed on probation for 18 months by the Texas bar, but I have a few additional bits of context for those coming in late on the Jana Duty Saga.

    First, let’s remember how widely unpopular Duty was (and is) with fellow Williamson County Republicans. Holly Hansen had this to say back in 2011:

    Republican Jana Duty was first elected to the office in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, but has developed increasingly antagonistic interactions with the County Judge, all four members of the Commissioners Court, all of the County Court at Law Judges, the Williamson County District Attorney, and pretty much any other judge handing an down unfavorable ruling.

    Since then, if anything she’s managed to become even less popular.

    Second, the fact that Duty was sanctioned for “withholding evidence in a murder case” provides a delicious bit of irony for those who have been following her career. For it was charges of “prosecutorial misconduct” in the Michael Morton case that allowed her to defeat incumbent John Bradley in the 2012 Republican primary, even though Bradley was only involved in Morton’s appeal process, not the original prosecution. The Morton case was a real miscarriage of justice, but Duty and several other dubiously-conservative challengers in 2012 seemed to view the case as a “get into office free” card.

    Finally, one tiny tidbit missing from the Statesman article Dwight linked to: Shawn Dick beat Duty in this year’s Republican Primary, so that probation is going to extend through the end of her term as DA, and beyond…