Just after I hit post on today’s LinkSwarm, I see this:
In a stunning defeat for federal prosecutors, John Wiley Price, the veteran politician who wields vast power and influence over Dallas County, was on Friday found not guilty of bribery and fraud.
The jury that considered whether he was abusing his public office to rake in about $1 million in secret profits over a decade also couldn’t reach a verdict on charges of tax evasion. The judge declared a mistrial on the deadlocked charges.
The U.S. attorney’s office will decide whether or not to retry Price on the tax charges.
The prosecutors badly mishandled their case, being forced to turn over evidence withheld from the defense on multiple occasions. While I have ample reason to believe Price is guilty, I also believe the jury’s verdict was a logical one given how poorly the case had been presented.
North Korean ballistic missile test fails. Cue the sad trombone.
Obama’s Iran deal was even worse than we thought. “By dropping charges against major arms targets, the administration infuriated Justice Department officials — and undermined its own counterproliferation task forces.”
The highest-profile Democratic-party supporters are increasingly smug Hollywood actors, rich Wall Street and Silicon Valley elitists, and embittered members of the media, along with careerist identity groups and assorted protest movements — a fossilized 1972 echo chamber.
Democrats’ politically correct messaging derides opponents as deplorable racists, sexists, bigots, xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes, and nativists. That shrill invective only further turns off Middle America. Being merely anti-Trump is no more a successful Democratic agenda than being anti-Nixon was in 1972.
Dishonest medical equipment startup Theranos used a shell company to secretly buy outside lab equipment to actually run the lab tests they were faking as coming from their own equipment. And check out that picture caption: “[CEO] Elizabeth Holmes speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting.” Because of course she did.
The circumstantial evidence is mounting that the Kremlin succeeded in infiltrating the US government at the highest levels.
How else to explain a newly elected president looking the other way after an act of Russian aggression? Agreeing to a farcically one-sided nuclear deal? Mercilessly mocking the idea that Russia represents our foremost geo-political foe?
Accommodating the illicit nuclear ambitions of a Russian ally? Welcoming a Russian foothold in the Middle East? Refusing to provide arms to a sovereign country invaded by Russia? Diminishing our defenses and pursuing a Moscow-friendly policy of hostility to fossil fuels?
All of these items, of course, refer to things said or done by President Barack Obama.
This didn’t get done while I was doing my taxes, but here, at last, is another giant Texas vs. California update:
Appeals court finds San Diego’s pension reform legal. “California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.” San Diego transitioned to a 401K style program. Naturally public employee unions screamed bloody murder and sought to have the reforms overturned. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.
About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.
The leading destination for those leaving California is Texas, with about 293,000 economically disadvantaged residents leaving and about 137,000 coming for a net loss of 156,000 from 2005 through 2015. Next up are states surrounding California; in order, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
Hat tip for the above is this Zero Hedge piece, which notes “By some measures, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as more and more residents leave, the burden to fund the state’s welfare exuberance will fall more and more on the wealthier (that actually pay taxes). Rather than secession, perhaps it’s time for the wealthy to join ‘the poor’ exodus and beat the crowd out of California…”
Living in a place where it is less of a struggle to pay the rent or make the mortgage payment does indeed chill most everybody out a little bit. But it is not at all obvious that what Houston — or Texas at large — enjoys is in fact a culture that is generally welcoming to immigrants in a way that is different from Scottsdale or Trenton or Missoula. What Texas does have is something close to the opposite of that: a large and very well-integrated Mexican-American community. Anglos in Texas aren’t welcoming to Latinos because we are in some way uniquely open to the unfamiliar, but because they are not unfamiliar.
This matters in ways that are not obvious if you didn’t grow up with it. My native West Texas, along with the whole of the border and much of the rest of the state, has a longstanding, stable Anglo–Latin hybrid culture. Houston does, too, but Houston, being a very large city, is a little more complicated; I had lunch yesterday with a conservative leader who chatted amiably with the staff in Spanish at . . . an Indian restaurant.
That robust hybrid culture ensures that the people Anglos hear speaking Spanish are not always poor, not mowing the lawn or cleaning a hotel room, that they are not usually immigrants, not people who cannot speak or read English — not alien. They are neighbors who, if you are lucky, make Christmas tamales. And they might be your employer or your employee, the guy who sells you a car or approves your car loan, a pastor at your church, a professor, a member of your Ultimate Frisbee team . . . or an illegal immigrant, or a criminal, or someone who is in some way unassimilated, alien, or threatening. When one out of three people in your county is “Hispanic” — a word that in Texas overwhelmingly means “Mexican-American” — then you tend to know Hispanic people of all descriptions: the good, the bad, and the ordinary.
That is not the case in, say, Arlington, Va., which does not have a large and well-assimilated Mexican-American population but does have a large and poorly assimilated population of Spanish-speaking immigrants. The two things are not the same — more like opposites. Add to that the fact, sometimes lost on Anglos, that there is no such thing as a “Hispanic” culture or population, that people with roots in Mexico do not think of themselves as being part of a single cultural group that includes people from Central America and South America. A while back, I heard an older fellow of Mexican background complaining about the Guatemalans moving into his area — and he was an illegal immigrant. That’s a funny reality: In Texas, even some of the illegals don’t think that we can let just anybody cross the border. But ethnic politics is a strange business: In West Texas, young whites without much money (college students and the like) who would never for a moment seriously consider moving into a low-income black neighborhood will not give a second thought to moving into a largely Hispanic neighborhood.
All of which is not to say that Texas does not have a fair number of poorly assimilated Spanish-speaking immigrants: It surely does, especially in the big cities. (People forget how urban Texas is: Six of the 20 largest U.S. cities are in Texas.) But it is easier to accommodate — and, one hopes, to assimilate — those newcomers when you have a culture of mutual familiarity and trust, which is based not on newcomers but on oldcomers. Texas’s ancient Mexican-American community — whose members famously boast, “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us!” — is a kind of buffer that makes absorbing newcomers less stressful.
Huntington Beach residents Chris Birtwistle and Allison Naitmazi were about to get married and decided it was time to buy a home.
They wanted to stay in the area but couldn’t find a house they both liked and could reasonably afford — despite a dual income of around $150,000.
So they decided to go inland — all the way to Arizona, where they recently opened escrow on a $240,000, four-bedroom house with a pool just outside Phoenix. Their monthly mortgage payment will be about $500 less than what they paid for a two-bedroom apartment in the Orange County beach community.
#2 Out of all 50 states, the state of California has been ranked as the worst state for business for 12 years in a row…
#3 California has the highest state income tax rates in the entire nation. For many Americans, the difference between what you would have to pay if you lived in California and what you would have to pay if you lived in Texas could literally buy a car every single year.
#4 The state government in Sacramento seems to go a little bit more insane with each passing session.
#5 The traffic in the major cities just keeps getting worse and worse. According to USA Today, Los Angeles now has the worst traffic in the entire world, and San Francisco is not far behind.
With no choice, there is no competition, unless you are wealthy enough to leave the state for medical care. However, this is a golden opportunity for medical tourism companies!
There will be a limited supply of doctors, as those who don’t want to go through the bureaucratic hoops for procedures and payment will also leave the state.
Clinicians will be forced to make their treatment decisions based on the state-run rules: Why choose surgery when a pill will do?
Shockingly, some funds need to be directed to other budget items instead of perks for illegal aliens (refer to Oroville Dam for a handy reference).
Medicare, the system that is the foundation for this proposal, is rife with waste, fraud and abuse (e.g., 3 Floridians bilked the system for $1 billion).
Co-pays and deductibles will be transformed into monies paid for non-state government healthcare services (like the Canadians who cross into the United States to obtain MRI’s and other innovative treatments).
Public oversight will translate into political wheeling-and-dealing strictly for the benefit of those plugged into the rigged system. An indication that Sacramento may be headed for such a system, I offer this piece published in The Sacramento Bee for consideration: Why California must accept more corruption.
The cost of drugs has soared, despite Obamacare. As an example, I had a skin medication that would cost me $150 for an annual supply. The same medication now costs nearly $1000 a year, and I no longer use it.
In order to further bestow members of the ruling Democratic coalition with rights and privileges mere citizens don’t enjoy, California’s Senate Bill 807 proposes making teachers exempt from state income tax. Some pigs are evidently way, way more equal than others…
California hikes its gas taxes yet again, making them the highest in the nation.
Pension liabilities are pinching in Gilroy, California: “Gilroy’s three biggest public employers have amassed more than $183 million in unpaid pension liabilities. That’s likely more than ever, and a figure that, absent major reform, will grow and siphon budget funds from essential public services, say officials and pension experts. In Gilroy, 23 city pensions exceed $100,000 and more than 60 exceed $70,000.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
Silicon Valley slows down. “Tech companies in San Francisco and San Mateo counties lost 700 jobs from January to February and tech employment has dropped by 3,200 jobs since hitting a peak last August.”
What the lords of Silicon Valley actually think: “Inequality is a feature, not a bug.”
“Hotel construction continues apace in the United States, and dozens of new properties are expected to open this year in two major corporate and tourist destinations, New York and Los Angeles. But the three other cities with the most hotels projected to open in 2017, according to the industry research company STR, are all in Texas — Dallas, Houston and Austin.” Notice the implied condescension in the NYT piece: New York and LA are real places, whereas Dallas, Houston and Austin are “other cities.”
The number of new hotels in Texas is notable. In 2017, Marriott plans to open eight hotels in Austin, seven in Houston and 23 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, according to the company. Ninety-two other Marriott hotels are in the planning stages for the three metro areas. Hilton says it is planning for 75 new hotels there. InterContinental Hotels Group has more than 100 hotel projects in the Austin, Dallas and Houston metro areas, including the Candlewood Suites, Crowne Plaza, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts and Staybridge Suites brands.
Austin is home to the state capital; the University of Texas at Austin, a campus with 50,000 students; and a long list of technology companies. Its growing recreation and dining scene is attracting more leisure travelers, filling guest rooms on weekends and making the city “more of a seven-day-a-week hotel market,” according to Tim Powell, the managing director for development for Hilton’s southwest region.
“A state senator is removed from the chamber for her comments about Tom Hayden and Vietnam.” Namely for noting that Hayden supported “a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family.” Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) came to America as a Vietnamese refugee, and Democrats were incensed she was allowed to speak truth to power when it came to hagiography for one of their own. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
February’s quarterly auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances under California’s cap and trade program was another financial washout for the state.
Results for last week’s auction were posted Wednesday morning, revealing that just 16.5 percent of the 74.8 million metric tons of emission allowances were sold at the floor price of $13.57 per ton.
The state auctions emission allowances to polluters and speculators as part of its program to reduce greenhouse gases. The proceeds are supposed to be spent on public programs to slow climate change.
February’s auction is being closely watched by market analysts because the last three quarterly auctions in 2016 posted sub-par results.
Almost all of February’s proceeds went either to California’s utilities, who sell allowances they receive free from the Air Resources Board, or the Canadian province of Quebec, which offers emission allowances through California. Both are first in line when auction proceeds are apportioned.
The ARB was offering 43.7 million tons of state-owned emission allowances, but sold just 602,340 tons of advance 2020 allowances, which means the state will see only $8.2 million, rather than the nearly $600 million it could have received from a sellout.
San Rafael has the the highest pension costs in California by percentage of their total budget (18%). “Money that goes to one thing can’t go to another thing, so if you’re spending almost $1 out of $5 on pension payments, that is a lot less money available for tangible public services such as filling potholes, keeping the library open and making sure there is sufficient police protection.”
Remember Anthony Silva, mayor of formerly bankrupt Stockton? He’s been arrested again, this time for embezzling “at least $74,000 from the Stockton Kids Club over the past five years.” That would be the same Anthony Silva who is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, whose own guns were stolen and used in crimes, and who was also arrested for “for playing strip poker with minor and giving them alcohol while at a youth camp.” Given such august leadership, I can’t imagine how Stockton went bankrupt… (Hat tip: Dwight.)
I would like to celebrate Austin Austin having the shortest commute time in this study of major cities except, since I now experience that commute time every weekday, I can tell you that 16 minute estimate is utter crap. Maybe Austin is the best if the commute time for other cities is similarly underestimated. By contrast, the Austin rental rate of $476 a week seems slightly high, while the London rate of $489 a week seems way too low…
Los Angeles-based fashion company Nasty Gal declares bankruptcy. Also, nice proofreading on this subhead, LA Times: “Why couldn’t they the company hold on to shoppers?” Note: That’s still up for a story published February 24th…
Good news, everyone! Your tax returns aren’t due until April 18th this year. So you can panic slightly later than usual…
How Trump won: by “consolidating the Republican base and then earning massive levels of support from whites without a college degree.” With lots of wonky demographic data goodness. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
Scumbag who killed Brian Terry with a Fast and Furious gun arrested in Mexico. (Insert innocent until proven guilty yada here.)
Hey Lois Lerner: If you want to seal your testimony because you think it might bring death threats, maybe you shouldn’t have used the IRS as a weapon against your domestic political enemies… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
Gavin McInnes at Taki’s Magazine thinks the Syria strike was five different 4D chessboard wins. Excerpts: “This shows women that America is in charge and we will keep the world’s children safe. Deep down, all they really want is a patriarchy.” And: “Obama’s legacy was the only death on April 6, 2017.”
“Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush.” Details: “A total of 563 strikes, largely by drones, targeted Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen during Obama’s two terms, compared to 57 strikes under Bush. Between 384 and 807 civilians were killed in those countries.”
It turned out the open seat was an “electoral asset” for Trump. Voters didn’t like him or Hillary Clinton. But once filling the seat became the “principal issue,” Trump had the advantage. Everyone knew she would dump Garland, a moderate, for someone further to the left.
“We didn’t know if the president would be a conservative or not,” McConnell said. However, he had promised to pick a nominee from a list of 20 conservative jurists. (McConnell had advocated such a list.) “This reassured conservatives.” The result: he got 90 percent of the Republican vote and won.”
Archeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars was attacked and shunned for offering up evidence that challenged the scientific consensus of the day. Good thing there’s no way that could possibly happen in climate research…
I’m still not wild about President Trump’s decision to strike a Syrian airfield with cruise missiles last night, but the decision makes more sense if you look at it less of a tool to make Bashar Assad mend his ways than as a warning shot across the bows of Ali Khamenei, Kim Jong-Un and Xi Jinping, the latter of whom President Trump just happened to be meeting with while the missiles were hitting Shayrat.
Jobless claims “are hovering near the lowest level since the early 1970s.” Now the trick is to produce enough sustained growth to get the Obama-discouraged long-term unemployed back into the workforce…
The first trial resulting from the 2015 Waco biker shootout, previously scheduled to start May 22, has been delayed:
The trial for Christopher Jacob Carrizal, a member of the Bandidos motorcycle group, had been set for May 22. But state District Court Judge Ralph Strother on Friday postponed the trial after a new attorney brought onto the case indicated she couldn’t be ready in time, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. A new trial date wasn’t set.
The delay means the first trial related to the confrontation between the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs and police outside of a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco is set to begin June 5 before a different judge. It involves 50-year-old Kyle Smith, a member of the Cossacks motorcycle club..
Also, the Feds have information on the Waco shootout…but have declined to share it with McLennan County prosecutors until after a federal trial of major Bandido leaders. That trial is set for August but could well be delayed.
Enter [McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna. A member of a well-regarded Waco family—his father was the McLennan County district attorney in the late eighties and later a judge on the Tenth Court of Appeals—the 44-year-old Republican was elected district attorney in 2010, beating a longtime Democratic incumbent. Burly and affable, he’s known for his ability to connect with jurors. One reporter who covers the courthouse told me that he recently watched Reyna spend less than twenty minutes at a trial studying a list of sixty or so potential jurors. Then, during the voir dire examination, he called every person on that list by name, chatting pleasantly with them about their lives without once looking at his notes.
At the same time, Reyna is also known to be unyielding at trial, demanding harsh sentences even for first-time offenders. And in the aftermath of the Twin Peaks shooting, he made it clear he had little sympathy for any of the bikers who happened to be at the restaurant. In fact, Reyna had an opportunity to do something no other district attorney in Texas had ever done: seriously cripple the Bandidos and Cossacks in one fell swoop.
Reyna turned to the state’s organized-criminal-activity statute, which had originally been passed by the Legislature to make it easier for police and prosecutors to go after what the statute described as a “criminal street gang,” like the Crips or the Bloods. (The statute defines a criminal street gang as “three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.”) Reyna claimed that both the Bandidos and Cossacks were criminal street gangs and that they had come to Twin Peaks to commit or to conspire to commit organized criminal activity, namely murder and assault. According to Reyna, even those Bandidos and Cossacks (and their respective supporters) who didn’t directly participate in the fight were in violation of the statute because they were there to support their gang. As Michael Jarrett, Reyna’s first assistant district attorney, explained in one court hearing: “The act of engaging in organized crime was committed when these people showed up in our fair county with the intent to show themselves as a show of force, both the Cossacks and their ilk and the Bandidos and their ilk.”
Reyna isn’t talking to the news media. But defense attorneys—nearly one hundred have been retained or appointed by the court—are in an uproar. They claim Reyna is going after their clients with no evidence whatsoever that they did anything wrong. “The district attorney seems to have an egomaniacal need to do something big so he can get his fifteen minutes of fame,” said Paul Looney, a well-regarded Houston attorney who represents one of the indicted bikers. “He wants to do something no one has ever done on a scale that has not been accomplished, and in the process, he’s tortured the law and he’s tortured the facts. The only thing he has accomplished is chaos.”
Reyna seems to have lost sight of the fact that America’s system of justice does not allow “collective guilt” for people that have committed no criminal acts who just happen to belong to an organization whose other members have committed such acts. Nine people died in Waco, and the people responsible for killing them (either through criminal activity or police overreaction) should be held accountable. Those nine deaths are the crimes that need to be investigated, and criminal conspiracy charges are only appropriate if one or both gangs openly plotted to kill members of the other gang before arriving at Twin Peaks. Showing up at the same place at the same time wearing the same clothes is not a criminal offense, it’s American citizens exercising their rights of free assembly and free association.
If Reyna can’t plausibly charge individual defendants with homicide, then the McLennan County District Attorney’s office has failed to do it’s job.
Cruz will still be a prohibitive favorite incumbent with a national profile, a battle-tested campaign team and demonstrated fundraising prowess running in a deep red state. However, in O’Rourke he faces something he’s never run into in a statewide race: A serious Democratic office holder who actually wants to run, something notable absent in 2012.
O’Rouke is not someone to sleep on. The same year Cruz was elected to the Senate, O’Rouke knocked off 8-term Democratic incumbent Silvestre Reyes in a district that’s 79.5% Hispanic. I suspect that he would make a much more formidable general election opponent than the much-better-known Rep. Joaquin Castro. But whether he can get by the likely better-funded Castro in the Democratic primary is another matter.
But the El Paso Democrat is earnestly bullish that he will go to the Senate through a strategy of bringing retail politics to a state of 27 million people.
He has no pollster and no consultants at this point, and said he has no interest in hiring operatives of that ilk.
“Since 1988, when Lloyd Bentsen won re-election to the Senate, Democrats have spent close to a billion dollars on consultants and pollsters and experts and campaign wizards and have performed terribly,” he said.
The approach offers a clear contrast with Cruz, who has used his own consultants to devastating effect in his races for the U.S. Senate and the White House. Last month, several members of Cruz’s political team showed attendees at the Conservative Political Action Convention a presentation of his presidential campaign’s investment and innovations in data analytics.
Certainly Democrats need to change something about running statewide campaigns in Texas, but the “blame the consultants” strategy seems to be yet another case of Democrats ignoring the fact that their liberal policies are unpopular with the Texas electorate.
Then there’s the money issue:
Cruz begins the race with $4.2 million in campaign money. And the early signs amid O’Rourke’s run is that Tea Party groups and establishment organizations will line up with tens of millions of dollars to back Cruz at the slightest sign of trouble.
Nationally, Democrats have no appetite at this point to spend serious money in Texas, and O’Rourke is not accepting money from political action committees. He, like all federal candidates, has no control over whether a super PAC opts to get involved.
But anyone opposing Cruz is a likely magnet for angry liberal dollars. And O’Rourke could have the makings of a Bernie Sanders-type fundraising operation. He is one of the most adept politicians when it comes to social media and was an early adopter of building a following with Facebook Live, a means of broadcasting events through that website.
That’s the problem for Texas Democrats: The message that pulls in nationwide liberal dollars is not the message that wins statewide in Texas, as Wendy Davis can attest.
And that will be the problem for O’Rourke, who seems to be a doctrinaire liberal on just about every issue, from gun control to the border wall to abortion. Indeed, there does not seem to be any issue where O’Rourke is any less liberal than Davis, and he’s arguably worse on gun control.
If O’Rourke makes it past Castro in the primary, Democrats will probably find out, yet again, that the liberal Democratic policies are still out-of-step with Texas voters.
Bonus: O’Rourke was in a punk band called Foss in college. Here they are pretending to be a gospel band to get on a Christian access show:
Well, O’Rourke probably made the right decision not to pursue a musical career. I don’t think Johnny Rotten and Jello Biafra were hearing footsteps…
Welcome to April Fool’s Eve! Don’t believe anything you hear tomorrow. Especially if it’s from CNN…
Representative Moe Brooks of Alabama offers up a one sentence repeal of ObamaCare: “Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted.” Get on it, GOP… (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
Single-payer’s future is Venezuela’s present: “The communist model for healthcare will result in everyone having a right to healthcare and no one getting any of it. There will be black market health care for those who can afford it, a lovely parallel system for the politically well connected, and a crumbling system of overworked, over-regulated providers working to give some care to all the rest of us.”
Scott Adams: “With the failure of the Ryan healthcare bill, the illusion of Trump-is-Hitler has been fully replaced with Trump-is-incompetent meme.”
“Filibustering Gorsuch might be a pointless exercise when it comes to keeping him off the court, but it would have the advantage of giving angry Democratic activists something they desperately want: an opportunity to lash out in fury at Republicans.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
Hosni Mubarek freed in Egypt. But I mainly want to talk about the Times piece of an example of sins of omission by the newspaper of record. “The first democratic election, in 2012, brought to power a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi. But he lasted only a year, making a series of political blunders that cost him the support of the military, crucial parts of the security apparatus and millions of Egyptians, who gathered in the streets in June 2013 to call for his removal.” Yes, one might call “engineering a murderous rampage and instituting a dictatorship in order to fully Islamicize Egyptian society” a “blunder”…
So how’s that boycott against North Carolina over the tranny bathroom law panning out? Not so hot. “Tourism has thrived: Hotel occupancy, room rates and demand for rooms set records in 2016, according to the year-end hotel lodging report issued last week by VisitNC, part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.” (Hat tip: Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Twitter feed.)
Journalists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby parts selling scheme indicted on felony eavesdropping charges in California. By an amazing coincidence, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra received donations from Planned Parenthood. What are the odds?
There’s an actual Wikipedia article for a list of grenade attacks in Sweden, which have exploded (ha) since 2012. Many occurred in Malmo. Gee, what could possibly be driving all these grenade attacks?
Attorney General Ken Paxton’s trial venue is being moved, which is a victory for the prosecution. Given the dismissal of the SEC charges the case is based on, I still think the long-term prognosis points to acquittal or dismissal.
Don McLean’s “American Pie” added to the National recording registry. “I’m really delighted that the government has taken notice of me in this way, and not by tapping my phone or something.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
In case you missed it, the long-delayed bribery trial of long-serving black Democratic Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price got underway February 27.
For those who forgot about Price, the essentials are that Price is accused of taking some $950,000 in bribes over a decade from businesses seeking county contracts and other favors. The FBI seized more than $450,000 from Price in 2011 as part of their investigation. (You can read the FBI’s search warrant here.) So the trial has been a long, long time in coming. Indeed, it was three years after the raid before Price was even arrested. (The trial was evidently delayed due to an FBI agent’s stroke.) And being under bribery indictment didn’t prevent Price from being reelected. Twice.
Recently the Price trial turned to the inland port controversy, something I’d learned about back when covering former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert’s unsuccessful Senate bid. Here’s Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer on recent revelations:
One major question in the trial is whether Commissioner Price, lifelong hero and champion of African-American southern Dallas, stabbed his own constituency in the back seven years ago by helping torpedo a huge economic development project called the Inland Port, a planned 5,000-acre complex of rail yards, truck terminals and gigantic high-tech warehouses purported to be worth 65,000 well-paid new jobs for the city’s southern racial reservation.
If he did help stymie the Inland Port, the criminal allegation is that he did so to collect bribes from a lobbyist working for a competing shipping facility in Fort Worth owned by Dallas’ powerful Perot family. If he was not acting corruptly, then Price was only being a good steward of the interests of his district by insisting on proper land-use planning. The trial will tell.
Foster was the county’s top elected official in 2007 when the Inland Port question arrived at a crisis. The project’s lead developer had amassed 5,000 acres of land and spent millions of dollars over seven years getting all of the zoning and other permits he needed for the vast project. He was just about to ink deals with major international companies to build vast high-tech warehouses in what was supposed to become a continental shipping hub.
Top executives for Hillwood, a Perot company, have already testified in the trial that in 2007 they saw the Dallas Inland Port as a grave competitive threat to Hillwood’s Alliance Global Logistics Hub in Fort Worth. They wanted to slow it down long enough to regain the advantage.
The Perots had a connection to Price through lobbyist Kathy Nealy, who had helped the Perots get a bond election passed in 2000 to support a new basketball arena in Dallas. The government’s allegation in the ongoing trial is that Nealy paid Price to use his official powers to sabotage the Inland Port, even though the Inland Port project might have been the single greatest promise of economic opportunity in the history of southern Dallas.
All of a sudden in 2007 a lot of things started to happen, seemingly out of the blue. Price began insisting that a long difficult process of federal permits and local planning needed to be cranked up again from scratch. He was supported in his efforts by a major regional planning agency, by then Mayor Tom Leppert and by the editorial page of The Dallas Morning News.
Price’s pitch to the Dallas black community he claims to represent has long been “Our Man Downtown.” By prioritizing his own shakedown operation over jobs for his constituents, it appears that Price was his own man downtown…
Price’s defense team seems to be suggesting that they money Price received from various businesses were just repayments of loans. Because it’s perfectly normal for political figures to give loans to various business owners in his district…
Price’s accountant and tax preparer, Russell Baity, repeatedly admitted Tuesday that he did not know about several sources of Price’s income, including rental payments, art and real estate sales and a civil court judgement. Price should have told him about the extra cash, Baity told the jury.
“You need to report every dollar you receive on your tax returns,” he said.
Baity also cast doubt on the defense’s assertion that payments between Price and his executive assistant and co-defendant Dapheny Fain were loans and repayments of loans. Price hadn’t told him about any loans, Baity said, despite the fact that the accountant would’ve needed the information to properly handle Price’s taxes.