Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Leland Yee Prison Update

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

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).

National Review Does Buc-ee’s

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

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…

LinkSwarm for June 17, 2016

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Today is a quadruple witching hour for markets, so try not to freak out if there’s more than the usual market volatility today.

  • “Obama Is Bringing 100 Syrian Refugees Into U.S. Every Day.”
  • And Syrian refugees are blowing big holes in Sweden’s welfare budget. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The rich aren’t paying their “fair share,” they’re paying everyone’s share. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Swiss overwhelmingly turn down “guaranteed income,” the latest pie-in-the-sky socialist scheme to rob every Peter to pay every Paul.
  • David Horowitz believes that Donald Trump’s post-Orlando foreign policy speech is a game changer. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Not a game-changer: Continued vapid liberal cheer-leading for multiculturalism at all costs. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Orlando wasn’t about ‘gun violence’ or ‘homophobia.’ It was about Islam. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Yet another MSM journalist caught lying about guns.
  • “Why it’s called a ‘modern sporting rifle‘ and not an ‘assault weapon.'” (Hat tip: Instapundit, who notes “Remember, none of this is about saving lives. It’s about the cultural domination of the people in flyover country, by their coastal ‘betters’ who get a near-erotic thrill out of such domination, and who are reduced to blind rage whenever their efforts at domination fail.”)
  • Aside: Is the Washington Examiner paying Ashe Schow enough? She’s like some indefatigable writing machine…
  • The Corrosive Politics of the New York Times Editorial Board Led to the Orlando Shooting. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Right now the debate seems choked with people who don’t know, are proud of not knowing, and think you’re a redneck gun-nut asshole if you want them to know because they feel very strongly about this.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • No charges for officer Brad Miller. He’s the one who shot the “unarmed teen” who had driving his Jeep through a plate glass window and was in the process of vandalizing cars.
  • And here’s a police shooting where the use of lethal force was clearly justified.
  • JFK and LSD. Meh. It’s not that I think Kennedy wouldn’t have dropped acid given a chance, but Timothy Leary was basically a con man, and we already know that Nina Burleigh is irrational.
  • Wow, believe it or not, still another reason to never visit Oklahoma. “I’m going to need your driver’s license and all the money on your prepaid debit cards.”
  • “The prohibition of comments that are considered biased or hateful is an explicit denial of freedom of speech.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Australia’s women’s Olympic soccer team defeated by teenage boys.
  • Are shipping containers the future of farming?
  • Your auditor finds huge cost discrepancies in Houston ISD construction costs. Does HISD: A.) Call in an outside auditor, B.) Launch a criminal investigation or C.) Suspend the auditor who found the problems?
  • New UT President Greg Fenves is a vast improvement over Bill Powers merely by being mediocre.
  • Land’s End decides to commit suicide.
  • Father buys car for son to go to college. Son decides to smoke pot and hang with no-good friends instead. Father sells car.
  • You’re not authorized to know the dire secrets of the Amtrak snack car! (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Affluent buyers snapping up Hill Country land and building mansions.
  • 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 Called On To Resign

    Friday, June 10th, 2016

    Dwight offers an update to my update of his original update on Jana Duty.

    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.”

    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…

    Other UT Regents Back Wallace Hall Lawsuit

    Monday, June 6th, 2016

    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.

    LinkSwarm for June 3, 2016

    Friday, June 3rd, 2016

    Another week, another Texas flood. Try to stay dry and enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • Paglia on Clinton: “If it were a Republican in the crosshairs, Hillary’s shocking refusal to meet with the Inspector General (who interviewed all four of the other living Secretaries of State of the past two decades) would have been the lead item flagged in screaming headlines from coast to coast. Let’s face it—the genuinely innocent do not do pretzel twists like this to cover their asses.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • New York Magazine massively re-edits article on why Hillary won’t debate because the original wasn’t fawning enough.
  • Eight reasons Hillary sucks. Including Obama: “she does not seem to want to run on Ben Rhodes’s foreign policy, Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare, Lois Lerner’s IRS, Lisa Jackson’s EPA, Eric Holder’s Justice Department, or Barack Obama’s racial healing. And yet she needs Obama’s hard-left base. So far she has rejected her 2008 Annie Oakley, Reagan-Democrat schtick, gambling that her Black Lives (alone) Matter and transgenderism pandering can ensure that she will match Obama’s historic share of the minority vote. But so far it seems just as likely that she will lose more voters among the white working class than she can lease from Obama’s core.”
  • College students are allowed to ask Hillary Clinton original, spontaneous questions that just happen to be scripted by the Clinton campaign. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • At judge’s order, 20,000 documents related to Fast and Furious scandal released. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Trump is right: Some illegal aliens are being lavished with more benefits than our own veterans.
  • How a naval contractor named “Fat Leonard” infiltrated the Navy with bribes, prostitutes and lavish parties. “The Soviets couldn’t have penetrated us better than Leonard Francis.” Our country is in the best of hands. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Oberlin students are among the most precious of snowflakes.
  • More on the same theme. Alas, this morning I just don’t have time to explicate all the manifest idiocies on display by the Social Justice Warrior Campus Cadets…
  • Obama Administration bitch-slapped for attempting ex-post facto regulation. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Columbia was once a basket case and Venezuela a thriving nation on the rise. Thanks to The Magic Power of Socialism™, they’ve switched places.
  • This bitch is so crazy I can’t even keep up with her crazy bitch shit.”
  • Enya: rich crazy cat lady.
  • Flooding-related blackout leads to Texas prison riots.
  • City Manager behind Dallas’ controversial city-owned hotel steps down.
  • If your political party openly calls for the complete destruction of the oil industry, maybe you shouldn’t have your national convention in Houston.
  • Science Fiction writer Gregory Benford on university host escort duties for G. Gordon Liddy, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and a certain “Tom.”
  • Space City Comic Con turns into an actual con. As in the fraud kind…
  • Swiss open world’s longest tunnel with ceremony featuring marching uniform worker drones, a horned goat god, and a giant flying death baby.
  • Texas vs. California Update for June 2, 2016

    Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

    Time for another Texas vs. California update:

  • Once again, Texas is ranked as the best state for business by CEO Magazine, while California is ranked the worst. (Hat tip: Rider Rants via Pension Tsunami.)
  • This OC Register piece offers an good restatement of the general problem:

    California has earned quite a reputation for being openly hostile to business, as confirmed by numerous studies and surveys. Its plethora of taxes and regulations are driving away legions of entrepreneurs and workers, but they are doing wonders for one segment of the economy: the moving industry. It is almost as though that industry is secretly lobbying the state Legislature for its anti-business policies.

    Joe Vranich, as president of Spectrum Location Solutions, an Irvine business relocation consulting firm, knows all about what drives businesses’ decisions to give up and leave for greener pastures. According to his research, in just the past seven years, approximately 9,000 businesses have decided to leave California or expand their operations out of state. Companies leaving California typically save between 20 percent and 35 percent of operating costs, he concluded.

    Texas has been the biggest beneficiary of California’s business exodus.

    Snip.

    California’s litigious climate has become a common complaint of business owners. No wonder the American Tort Reform Foundation once again named California the No. 1 “Judicial Hellhole” in the nation last year, based on the state’s excessive laws and regulations and a flood of disability access, asbestos and food advertising and labeling lawsuits, frequently more opportunistic attempts at extortion than legitimate attempts to seek justice for victims who have been truly harmed.

    California has proven to be a particularly harsh climate for manufacturing businesses. “Even if California were to eliminate the state income taxes tomorrow, that still would not be enough,” CellPoint Corp. CEO Ehsan Gharatappeh told the Dallas Business Journal of the Costa Mesa company’s move to Forth Worth.

    General Magnaplate Corp., which has made reinforced parts for the aerospace, transportation, medical, oil and other industries for 36 years, decided to shut down its California facility in Ventura altogether. “This is a very sad day for our employees and for my family, who have a long history of job creation in this area, but the simple fact is that the state of California does not provide a business-friendly environment,” CEO Candida Aversenti said in a press release. “Increases in workers’ compensation costs and government regulations, combined with predatory citizens groups and law firms that make their living entirely by preying on small businesses, have left us with no other choice but to shut down our California facility. This is in stark contrast to our New Jersey and Texas facilities, which are flourishing in small business-friendly environments created by the respective local governments and environmental agencies.”

  • Tech layoffs double in the Bay area:

    Yahoo’s 279 workers let go this year contributed to the 3,135 tech jobs lost in the four-county region of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and San Francisco counties from January through April, as did the 50 workers axed at Toshiba America in Livermore and the 71 at Autodesk in San Francisco. In the first four months of last year, just 1,515 Bay Area tech workers were laid off, according to mandatory filings under California’s WARN Act. For that period in 2014, the region’s tech layoffs numbered 1,330.

  • How did the California city of Irwindale rack up the largest per household market pension debt in the state, at $134,907 per household?
  • Low and negative interest rates means that CalPERS must make risky investments to even come close to hitting their yield targets:

    The nation’s largest public pension fund, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, has one-fifth of its assets in bonds and is down 1.3% since July 1, according to public documents. The system, known by its abbreviation Calpers, also has 53.1% of its assets in stocks, 9% in real estate and 9.4% in private equity. In 2015, Calpers posted a return of 2.4%, below its target rate of 7.5%.

    Nor is CalSTARS doing much better:

    The nation’s second-largest public pension plan, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, has shifted a significant amount of money away from some stocks and bonds to protect against a downturn. It moved assets into U.S. Treasurys and so-called liquid-alternative funds, which mimic hedge-fund strategies. Calstrs, as the pension is called, reported gains of 1.5% during a choppy 2015, with returns on its fixed-income investments up just 0.6%.

    (Note: WSJ link, so you may need to do the Google thing.)

  • News: Former CalPERS chief executive Fred Buenrostro convicted of bribery. California: Buenrostro will continue to receive his CalPERS pension while in prison. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Overview of the Texas budget.
  • UnitedHealth exits California’s Obamacare exchanges.
  • Despite that, California wants to offer ObamaCare subsidies to illegal aliens.
  • California also wants to spend more money to send illegal aliens to college.
  • And those illegal aliens with California driver’s licenses still aren’t purchasing liability insurance.
  • Hate California traffic? Tough:

    The newest outrage comes from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research in the form of a proposed “road diet.” This would essentially halt attempts to expand or improve our roads, even when improvements have been approved by voters. This strategy can only make life worse for most Californians, since nearly 85 percent of us use a car to get to work. This in a state that already has among the worst-maintained roads in the country, with two-thirds of them in poor or mediocre condition.

    Snip.

    In essence, the notion animating the “road diet” is to make congestion so terrible that people will be forced out of their cars and onto transit. It’s not planning for how to make the ways people live today more sustainable. It has, in fact, more in common with Soviet-style social engineering, which was based similarly on a particular notion of “science” and progressive values.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Toyota’s Plano headquarters takes shape.
  • The UAW is making a big push to unionize Tesla’s Fremont plant.
  • Speaking of Tesla, they’re approaching the grand opening of their giant battery factory…in Nevada.
  • McDonald’s CEO says a $15 minimum wage will make his restaurants shift to using robots. But what would McDonald’s know about minimum wage workers?
  • In the same vein, it’s no wonder that Whole Foods opened it’s first semi-automated Whole Foods 365 store in Los Angeles. “Promoted as a ‘chain for millennials,’ the new ‘365’ stores use about one-third less square footage than the company’s traditional 41,000-square-foot Whole Foods stores, but they also slash almost two-thirds of workers with robots and computerized kiosks.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Schedule for California high speed rail boondoggle pushed back four more years. Latest obstacle: wealthy equestrians. “Hey, this study says horses won’t mind a super-fast, super loud train zipping along right next to them.” “You mean the study from the institute that two bullet train authority members sit on? Get stuffed!”
  • “The State Assembly Subcommittee on Education voted Tuesday to delay funding to the UC system because of concerns with the UC Retirement Plan, proposed by UC President Janet Napolitano in March, which would cause the university to incur significant costs. The delay was announced after an actuarial report was released earlier that day by Pension Trustees Advisors, or PTA, which showed that the retirement plan would cost the university $500 million in savings, or $34 million a year, over the next 15 years.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Maywood, California (which had previously outsourced services to the corrupt city of Bell) is on the brink of bankruptcy. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • “Two L.A. sheriff’s deputies convicted of beating mentally ill inmate.”
  • San Francisco liberals versus the city’s police union
  • “Another aviation company has decided to move its corporate headquarters to Fort Worth to take advantage of the Lone Star state’s business friendly environment and the city’s longtime history in the aerospace industry. The move is historic for Burbank, California-based C&S Propeller — an FAA and EASA certified repair station for propeller and airplane maintenance — which has been in California for nearly five decades.”
  • This one’s a wash: XCOR lays off employees in both California and Texas.
  • Texas Primary Runoff Results

    Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

    A few quick results from last night’s runoffs:

  • Wayne Christian defeated Gary Gates in the Republican Railroad Commissioner’s runoff, despite Gates dropping considerable money into a dishonest, scorched earth direct mailer campaign against Christian. That makes Gates 0-7 running for office.
  • Wayne Christian will face Democrat Grady Yarbrough (as well as Libertarian Mark Miller and Green Party candidate Martina Salinas) in November.
  • Mary Lou Keel defeated Ray Wheless and Scott Walker (not that Scott Walker) defeated Brent Webster in Republican Court of Criminal Appeals runoffs. Keel will place Republican-turned-Democrat incumbent Lawrence Meyers in November, while Walker will face Democrat Betsy Johnson.
  • Bryan Hughes stomped David Simpson in the Texas Senate District 1 race. Hughes was backed by both Ted Cruz and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. Hughes has no Democratic Party opposition in November.
  • In Williamson County runoffs, Laura Barker defeated Warren Oliver Waterman for County Court at Law #2 and Landy Warren defeated Donna Parker for County Commissioner Precinct 1. Warren will face Democrat Terry Cook in November, while Baker faces no Democratic Party opponent.