Posts Tagged ‘Travis County’

Dukes Plea Deal Expires, Headed for Trial

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

The plea deal for Austin Democratic State Rep. Dawnna Dukes on corruption charges has expired.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday said its offer to drop all corruption charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, in exchange for her agreeing to resign immediately had expired.

In a statement sent to The Texas Tribune after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she’d had no contact from the attorneys for Dukes.

“The offer to resolve this matter has expired and is no longer available,” Moore said in a statement. “We will be ready for trial.”

As a part of the deal, Dukes would’ve had to also pay $3,500 in fines and restitution and agree to a drug and alcohol assessment. Dukes has previously denied charges that she had her legislative staff run personal errands and that she was compensated for days she did not work at the Texas Capitol.

Dukes seems awful confident of beating the rap, especially since her previous legal team bailed:

On July 25, two of Dukes’ Houston-based lawyers filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, citing an inability to “effectively communicate with the defendant on matters essential to the representation.”

State Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, put out a statement Tuesday night indicating he was representing Dukes, writing that the 12-term representative rejected the Travis County DA’s proposal because she “strongly reiterates her innocence,” adding that the “inexplicable request that she undergo some drug assessment is absurd.” He said neither Dukes nor her attorneys plan on commenting further.

Oliveira has been practicing law since 1979, so presumably he knows what he’s doing.

Maybe Dukes saw that John Wiley Price beat a federal rap and figured she could so the same for the comparatively piddling local charges. Given how quickly DA Margaret Moore was willing to sweep away the cobwebs of the Ronnie Earle/Rosemary Lehmberg era at the DA’s office, she may have miscalculated.

The trial is currently scheduled to start October 16.

Governor Abbott Signs Sanctuary City Bill

Monday, May 8th, 2017

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Sunday prohibiting the state’s cities and counties from enacting so-called ‘sanctuary’ laws that prevent local law enforcement officers from inquiring about the immigration status of anyone they detain.”

Here’s the text of the bill, which goes into effect September 1.

As previously reported, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez said she will obey the law, which is a good thing, given that Travis County previously lead the country in refusing to hold illegal aliens who had committed such crimes as sexual assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary and DUI.

Round Rock ISD Bonds Defeated

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

All three Round Rock ISD bond issues were defeated last night.

RRISD

That’s a big change from previous years, when such bonds generally passed without any organized opposition, but, as previously noted, that wasn’t the case this year.

Interestingly enough, the first two bonds passed in Williamson but were defeated in Travis, while the third (“for arts and athletic programs, including an indoor aquatic center, the District’s outdoor athletic facility #3, upgrades to Dragon Stadium and design of auditoriums at Round Rock and Westwood high schools”) was defeated in both Travis and Williamson.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is one of those rare instances where campaign yard signs did make a difference. Here’s the official statement from the Round Rock Parents and Taxpayers group that opposed the bonds:

At last count over 8,900 voters from Round Rock ISD voted against the bond propositions,more than the total number of votes cast in the 2014 election. This represents a stunning rejection of these heavily-promoted bond propositions from the Round Rock ISD community.

We were up against a nearly $100,000 pro-bond campaign, that sent more than half a dozen mailers to thousands of voters. The bond propositions enjoyed favorable press and official endorsements, as well as a district administration that in our view crossed the line in their own efforts to promote passage of this bond package.

In comparison, our grassroots coalition came together spontaneously from different members of the community with independent negative reactions to the flawed bond package. Many of us first met each other through this. In this David versus Goliath battle, we had much less money and less than 5 weeks to organize.

So what really doomed the bond, if we were so outmatched?

These bonds failed because they deserved to fail.

Patrick McGuinness, Round Rock Parents and Taxpayers Association

LinkSwarm for May 5, 2017

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Happy Cinco de Mayo, the holiday that celebrates the French army getting their asses kicked by Mexicans!

A bunch of big news that everyone and their dog has been covering at the top of the LinkSwarm:

  • Big News 1: Despite having the House, Senate and White House, House Republicans spinelessly cave on budget negotiations. “It is noteworthy for what it does not include: namely, most of Donald Trump’s and Republicans’ recent campaign promises. The bill does not defund Planned Parenthood. It does not include any of the president’s deep cuts to domestic agencies. Public broadcasting is funded at current levels. The National Endowment for the Arts’ budget is increased. There’s even funding for California’s high-speed rail.”
  • Big News 2: House Republicans also passed an ObamaCare replacement bill.
  • Consensus is that it sucks less than both ObamaCare and the March versions of the bill, but still sucks plenty. The Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chip Roy had this to say in a press release:

    “Today, conservative leaders in the House brought the American people a glimmer of hope that states might save American healthcare from the clutches of a federally controlled and regulated system under Obamacare,” said Roy. “This improved version of the American Health Care Act grants governors the ability to seek waivers from the onerous Obamacare regulations that unfortunately remain in place as the default rule even under this bill. This means governors would have both the opportunity and the burden of leading to free their states from these default regulations.”

    “Further reform remains necessary, however, as the bill retains far too much of Obamacare’s flawed Medicaid expansion, replaces one form of subsidy with an even more expansive one in the form of a refundable tax credit, creates a $138 billion slush fund for insurers, and leaves almost all of Obamacare’s cost-driving regulations and mandates as the federal standard,” Roy continued. “As the bill heads to the Senate, we hope it will be improved, at least by allowing states to opt in to Obamacare rather than forcing states to temporarily, partially opt out.”

  • By one account, the ObamaCare replacement amounts to a $1 trillion tax cut. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • French runoff Presidential elections happen Sunday. The overwhelming favorite Emmanuel Macron is being pummeled by leaked documents (sound familiar?) that suggest he’s been avoiding taxes using offshore accounts. Naturally French prosecutors are ready to pounce…on those spreading the allegations.
  • Texas legislation to repeal sanctuary cities heads to Governor Abbott’s desk.
  • And Travis County sheriff Sally Hernandez even says she’ll obey the law. Imagine that!
  • The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office want police to know that illegal aliens have more rights than American citizens and shouldn’t be prosecuted.
  • President Trump’s insistence on actually enforcing immigration laws is already paying dividends.

    The concrete, realpolitik reason that amnesty is dead is that the appropriate law enforcement policies have been set in motion and they are gaining momentum fast!

    I have long argued that the illegal alien community in the United States is highly fragile. President Trump’s executive order directing Immigration and Customs Authorities and Border Patrol officers to broadly interpret their jurisdiction for capturing and removing illegal aliens has had the immediate effect of decreasing attempts to cross the border as well as inspiring panic in illegal immigrant communities. Police officers and county sheriffs have told me that, even at the height of the Obama era of nonenforcement, illegal aliens shunned the police. Now, in the era of Trump, the possibility of going to work and ending your week in Mexico is a real and potent threat. (This is particularly true if you live, as I do, in Massachusetts). It is a commonplace that law enforcement professionals go to sleep muttering “5% enforcement equals 95% compliance.”

    At the same time, businesses cannot prosper in an environment of uncertainty. The initial impulse of business owners in agriculture and other illegal-alien-heavy industries is to demand, yet again, some succor from the government in terms of work permits for their illegal workers. Just such measures are championed by incoming Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. However, assuming this relief is not forthcoming in the near future (and I’ll get to that in a minute) the only rational policy is for business owners to begin exploring their other options — which might include automation or wage increases.

    When every small business owner in America finally takes paper and pencil and sits down at the kitchen table with their spouse and says “honey, we are going to have to figure out how to make our business work when we can’t hire illegal aliens anymore,” then and only then will the light appear at the end of the tunnel.

    But the key to the problem and the reason for optimism is this: with the law now being enforced, however incrementally, even without funds for more agents, even without funds for the Wall, even without E-Verify, the pressure to re-evaluate in the illegal alien and the business communities will only grow. The success of the policy in reducing the inflow and initiating “self-deportation” will feed back on itself. For years the only salient argument of the open borders advocates on both the right and the left was that enforcing the current laws on the books was impossible. As it becomes obvious how easy, in fact, enforcement is, those advocates will be forced to rely on their more avaricious motives for keeping illegal aliens here.

  • One in four federal inmates is foreign born. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why Hillary lost, Part 6974: Voters who went for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016.
  • Welcome back my friends to the 2016 election that never ends, we’re so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside. There behind the glass is a pile of Hillary’s foreign cash, be careful as you pass, move along, move along. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Even Dianne Feinstein says there’s no evidence of Russian meddling in the election. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • President Trump is more trusted than the national media.
  • Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro decides not to run against Ted Cruz. Smart move.
  • Did a Pakistani ISI assassin defect to India? Sources say: Maybe not.
  • Netflix deletes Bill Nye segment from 1996 that talks about how chromosomes determine sex. When science clashes with the current smelly orthodoxies of liberal dogma, it seems that science gets the axe.
  • Following Victims of Communism Day, here are ten films on the victims of Communism. These appear to be all documentaries.
  • VA official who kept secret wait lists veterans died on fired. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Puerto Rico declares bankruptcy.
  • Is Russia arming the Taliban?
  • “A New Instance of Android Malware is Discovered Every 10 Seconds.”
  • Leftists try to take over the Humble school board.
  • And don’t forget the Rond Rock Bond issue vote this Saturday.
  • Lunatic scumbag street-preacher/tax evader/child molester Tony Alamo dies in prison. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Auction for a treasure trove of early material on the Nation of Islam. Including two manuscripts handwritten by founder Wallace Fard Muhammad, who disappeared in 1934. Alas, the opening bid is a tad steep for my blood…
  • Travis County is Number 1…in Refusing to Hold Illegal Aliens

    Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

    The list of local municipalities defying federal immigration law is out.

    One of President Trump’s first executive orders promised a weekly recounting of the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and a list of the recalcitrant local law enforcement departments that failed to turn those people over to federal officials.

    The Department of Homeland Security on Monday delivered the first report. But rather than provide a complete tally, it contained misleading information that only prompted confusion and defiance from law enforcement officials from the jurisdictions in question.

    The report, which covers Jan. 28 to Feb. 3, shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency charged with deportations, issued 3,083 detainers, which are requests to local police departments to hold undocumented immigrants and legal permanent residents who could be deported.

    The report showed, however, that only 206 of those detainers were declined by local law enforcement agencies. Nevertheless, ICE officials say the lack of cooperation endangers Americans.

    Guess which political locale has defied federal law the most?

    Travis County, Tex., which includes the city of Austin, declined the most detainers, 142, out of the 206 rejections nationwide listed in the ICE report.

    Officials in Travis County said the high number of declined requests was the result of a change in policy by Sally Hernandez, a Democrat who became sheriff in January. She announced that unless individuals in the Travis County jail had been charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault or human smuggling, they would be allowed to post bond and released despite requests from ICE.

    So thanks to a Democratic Party functionary, Travis County has almost 75% of the entire nation’s non-compliance with federal immigration law. Digging into the actual report, many of the illegal alien felons Travis County refused to hold for deporation have committed sexual assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, burglary and DUI.

    And these are the people Sally Hernandez prefers to see set free back into the community rather than lawfully deported to their home countries.

    The Travis County policy has been criticized by Gov. Greg Abbott, who has threatened to cut off Texas’ criminal justice grant funding for the county.

    After the release of Monday’s report, Mr. Abbott said the findings highlighted the need to get rid of sanctuary cities in the state.

    “The Travis County Sheriff’s decision to deny ICE detainer requests and release back into our communities criminals charged with heinous crimes – including sexual offenses against children, domestic violence and kidnapping – is dangerous and should be criminal in itself,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement.

    SB 5, the bill to abolish sanctuary cities in Texas, has passed the Texas senate and is currently pending in committee in the house.

    It’s time for Travis County to prioritize the safety of American citizens over that of illegal alien felons.

    LinkSwarm for February 3, 2017

    Friday, February 3rd, 2017

    It’s been a weird, busy week here at BattleSwarm World Headquarters, including a bunch of job interviews and having my iMac in the shop most of the week. Now I’m back up and running, and even have that OS upgrade (to El Capitan) I’ve been putting off for longer than you would believe (I was running Mac OS 10.6.8).

    All of which explains why today’s LinkSwarm is somewhat abbreviated.

  • Democrats retreat from reality:

    “Real people” are what the Democratic Party is sorely missing. By real I do not mean the members of a specific ethnic or religious or cultural or regional group but simply those men and women who are uninterested in the latest trend embraced by the left. For the Democratic Party to win again, it would need to recapture voters in the Midwest and Appalachia who supported Barack Obama twice but felt so disillusioned and dejected by the end of his second term, so utterly unenthused by the bland and corrupt technological illiterate the party nominated to replace him, that they embraced an outsider who promised to upend the system. The Trump era is just beginning, but so far Democrats have been much more willing to retreat into their ideological cubbyholes, or ascribe the election results to (take your pick) James Comey, fake news, or Russian subversion, than to acknowledge the power of nationalism and populism. It’s their loss.

    (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)

  • Democrats still don’t get it:

    3) The race/class/gender agenda so favored by coastal elites and promulgated by media, Hollywood, and popular culture is an anathema to Middle America, especially its strange disconnect between affluence and the mandate for purportedly progressive equality. Moralistic lectures from wealthy people are not a way to win over the working classes. Rants by Hollywood celebrities and racialist sermons by would-be DNC chairs will not win over 51 percent of the voters in swing states. The twin agents of progressive dogma, the media and the university, are themselves under financial duress, must recalibrate, and have lost support from half the country.

  • Over at Ace of Spades Open Blogger helps articulate what I call the “How my liberal Facebook friends helped elect Trump” theory:

    Let me start by saying that Donald Trump is a reactionary phenomenon and most of us who voted for him are, by definition, reactionaries. And I would argue that most of this is due to social media.

    When one looks at the left wing, you can basically separate the institutional left from what I call the soft left. The institutional left consists of the political players and their lackeys, media, academics, street agitators and the like. These are the people that shape the direction, agenda, strategy and tactics of the left.

    The soft left are the voters. They don’t give much thought to anything other than their preferences, which the Democrat party caters to very effectively. They are, traditionally, passive players.

    Now I’ve understood since the Clinton years that the institutional left was actively seeking to harm me. Historically they’ve primarily done this through policy while other tactics such as demonization, othering, character assassination and lawfare were generally reserved for powerful political players and institutions on the right.

    During the Obama years, we saw a radical shift. No longer were the Tom Delays and the Rush Limbaughs of the world the exclusive targets of what Bill Clinton labeled “the politics of personal destruction.” Your average citizen was now in the cross hairs as well.

    I first became aware of this during the Joe the Plumber episode when the media relentlessly attacked a citizen simply for asking, on his own property where Barack Obama was a guest, a question that happened to make their Boy-King look silly.

    I thought it was a one-off due to the threat that Plumber’s inquiry posed, but soon after the examples piled up–the slandering of the Tea Party movement, targeting of Christian wedding photographers, the harassment of the Memories Pizza owners, etc…

    Which leads me to social media, Facebook specifically.

    As this dramatic shift occurred, we began to see another shift within social media, one that reached its apex during the 2016 presidential election. That was the politicization of everything, not just by the institutional left, but by the soft left as well.

    Where before the voters on the left were mostly passive receivers of Cultural Marxism, they had now become active participants via propaganda, slander, social shaming, and otherizing. This meant that conservatives were now being assaulted on two fronts, both from the institutional left and the soft left.

    Every conservative who is active on Facebook knows what I’m talking about. After decades of Americans keeping their politics mostly to themselves, suddenly our feeds were jammed up with political invective.

    It wasn’t just directed at politicians. It was personal–a relentless litany of insults and abuse, first at the Tea Party and then Trump supporters. Most of it was generalized, but the message was clear. They held our kind in contempt and didn’t care who knew it. In fact, they seemed to be in a contest to see who could broadcast it the loudest.

    Most conservatives were hurt by this. We tend to keep our politics relatively private, both out of decorum and respect for our relationships with people whose politics differ from ours. The message that these public posts sent to us was that our “friends” on the left didn’t respect or value us enough to avoid giving offense.

    As someone who has been following politics since high school, I tend not to trust my own instincts what the average voter thinks. I’m simply to close to the subject. My wife, however, is a fairly low-key traditionalist who doesn’t care to immerse herself in that world and so I use her as my political weather vane.

    And so I knew that there was a storm brewing when she snapped down her phone over breakfast one day after reading Facebook and told me how sick and tired she was of her friends’ political posts.

    “When they say those things,” she fumed, “they’re talking about our family.”

    “I’m so sick and tired of being told that I’m a bad person because I disagree with someone’s position on abortion or transgender bathrooms. Who do they think they are to tell everyone what they’re required to believe?”

    The hurt had turned to anger and quiet resolve.

    The left sought to reprimand the right. What they did was alienate it. Their social media echo chamber only served to steel conservative misgivings about Donald Trump, if for no other reason than we simply couldn’t abide by being pushed around for another 4-8 years.

    It’s one thing to know that your friends disagree with you. It’s another to realize that they think you’re stupid, uneducated, a bigot, bully, sexist, jerk and everything that’s wrong with the world.

    It’s then that you realize that it’s not just the institutional left that yearns to place its boot on your neck, it’s your left-wing neighbors, friends, coworkers and even family. When you see attacks on regular citizens cheered and reinforced by people on Facebook, your worldview changes radically.

    You can no longer believe that they don’t really understand what they’re voting for. It becomes clear that they do–they’re voting to turn you into a second class citizen, an “other” who is not due the same rights and courtesies as their exhalted tribe of Right Thinkers.

    We loathed Obama and all the Marxist cockroaches surrounding him. Now we were beginning to loathe his supporters.

    Donald Trump had exposed the press for the lying, shameless partisan hacks that they are. But social media exposed the soft left, the formerly passive Democrat party support.

    This is why the left never saw it coming. They took over public spaces and shouted down the opposition with personal attacks. Horrified conservatives withdrew from engagement, but we didn’t disappear.

    We seethed with resentment and contempt.

    And it drove us to the polls, quietly and without fanfare, like assassins in the night.

    The left still doesn’t know what hit him. They’re still too busy screeching, insulting, protesting, rioting, and trying to manipulate the rules to ask the simple question: Why?

    I’ll tell you why. We see you. We see what you’ve become. And we’re not having what you’ve been dishing out any longer.

  • The rise of the alt-left intifada. “Just like ISIS and Hamas have found the use of unique hashtags on social media to recruit and radicalize, unique hashtags are now being used by groups here in the U.S. that call for violence, protest, resistance and anarchy. By the use of these unique hashtags with a call to action to a specified group and location, the online mob becomes a real world-mob that can cause damage, disruption and violence, like we just witnessed in Berkeley.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Why Democrats have declared war on Trump: They’re terrified:

    I believe it stems from the inability of many Democrats to accept their defeat in November, or to understand that the people of mainland America — that heartland between California and New York — overwhelmingly rejected their elitist vision and collectivist values.

    During the campaign, Donald Trump made a number of specific promises to the American people. Over the past 10 days, he has been fulfilling them one by one and the Democrats are tearing out their hair, because they know what this means for 2018.

    Democrats are terrified that Trump will succeed.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The war between President Trump and the bureaucracy. “Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • DHS Secretary John Kelly says that the border wall should be finished in two years. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Other McCain has more on the Berkeley riot.
  • Milo (congrats liberals, your hate has tuned him into a one-named celebrity like Bono or Cher) talks about being the object of SJW wrath in the center of it:

  • Mother killed by President Trump’s travel ban is a hoax. She died five days before he even issued the order.
  • Army selects Sig Saur as it’s new official pistol.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott cuts funding to Travis County over the sheriff’s refusal to enforce immigration laws.
  • Women send Gov. Abbott soiled tampons.” Because that’s a dandy way to prove to moderates that feminists aren’t deranged lunatics.
  • “I Don’t Dress For Men, I Dress For The Sea Witch That Cursed Me.” Parody site, just in case that was unclear.
  • Dawnna Dukes Indicted on 15 Counts, Faces 28 Years in Jail

    Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

    The shoe has landed:

    A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on 13 felony corruption charges and two misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of 28 years behind bars, a courthouse source said Wednesday.

    Dukes, an Austin Democrat, faces two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity and 13 felony counts of tampering with public records, a source with knowledge of the case said. Travis County prosecutors and investigators from the Texas Rangers presented the evidence to the grand jurors Tuesday, who indicted Dukes on the first day that they met to consider the case.

    The indictment comes seven days after Dukes reneged on a promise to step down and took the oath of office for a 12th two-year term representing parts of North Austin, East Austin, Pflugerville and Manor.

    Dukes posted a statement on Facebook following the indictment, which was first reported by Spectrum News: “Of course, I am disappointed but I expected that if I was sworn into office in January 10th that this indictment would follow. All I can say today is that I will be entering a plea of Not Guilty.”

    One abuse of official capacity charge deals with Dukes using her legislative staff for personal purposes. In April, the American-Statesman reported that Dukes had arranged to give a taxpayer-funded raise to an aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school.

    With the other abuse of official capacity charge, the grand jury accused Dukes of using money raised from campaign contributors for personal purposes. Politicians may use campaign money to pay for election activities or for expenses related to carrying out their elected office, but state law forbids them from using it for personal purposes.

    Dukes has made numerous questionable expenditures from her campaign account over the years, including $13,000 in payments to family members, $30,000 on gas and $2,700 to a seamstress, a Statesman investigation in June found.

    $13,000 to family members? Yeah, that’s gonna raise red flags.

    The grand jury accused Dukes of converting to personal use campaign expenditures that were earmarked for the African-American Community Heritage Festival, an East Austin event Dukes co-founded 18 years ago but ended last year after negative attention caused by the investigation. Dukes has listed at least $17,600 in campaign expenditures for the festival, including $303 to an electronics store for “replacement of digital camera broken by staff,” $146 for Mardi Gras beads and more than $7,000 for musical performers, the Statesman investigation found.

    The 13 charges for tampering with public records concerns an allegation that Dukes collected pay from the state during the 2014 legislative interim for days that she did not travel to the Capitol, which is required under House rules. The American-Statesman in May reported that a former Dukes staffer had accused the legislator of filing requests for per diem payments for days that she never traveled to the Capitol and may not have worked at all.

    So Dukes was getting paid for not working. In other words, she was living the Democratic Party dream…

    (Previously.)

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Democratic Rep. Dawnna Dukes To Become More Officially Absent

    Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    Austin Democratic state Rep. Dawnna Dukes announced she’s stepping down from the legislature.

    Her ostensible reason for leaving is health issues, stemming from a serious car crash she suffered in 2013. (“State Rep. Ruth McClendon-Jones, D-San Antonio, said Dukes is resting at home now after being hospitalized for several hours after the incident. She said Dukes’ vehicle was rear-ended by a large truck while stuck in traffic.” While it does sound serious, I do note that “serious injuries” from a car crash usually require more than “a few hours” in the hospital.)

    But her “health-related” retirement “comes as the Travis County District Attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into her alleged misuse of staff and government funds”:

    Former staff members accused Dukes of seeking reimbursement from the state for travel payments she was not entitled to. In February, The Texas Tribune reported that the state auditor’s office was investigating her use of state workers on a personal project Dukes oversaw, the African American Heritage Festival. The auditors referred the case to Travis County prosecutors.

    Then, in April, state officials said the Texas Rangers had joined the Travis County District Attorney’s office criminal probe. A spokesman for the Rangers, Tom Vinger, said Monday their investigation is complete and has been presented to the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

    “In her resignation statement, [Dukes] said she was ‘content that two signature community programs I initiated enriched my beloved District 46 and Austin community.’ It does sound like there was some sort of enrichment going on.

    Chanman’s Musings has some thoughts on her resignation pay bump.

    While Dukes is stepping down and has been absent from the legislature for more than a year, her name will still be on the ballot in November, which means that Gov. Greg Abbott will have to call a special election next year unless Republican challenger Gabriel Nila beats her in November. Which may be difficult, as the district is so heavily Democratic. If he loses, at least three Democrats (Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Joe Deshotel (son of state Rep. Joe Deshotel), and Travis County Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Harding) have said they’re considering running.

    Texas vs. California Update for March 31, 2016

    Thursday, March 31st, 2016

    Lots of Texas vs. California linky goodness, much of it via Jack Dean at Pension Tsunami, who’s been emailing me links of significant interest.

  • Texas continues to grow:

    As last week’s US Census Bureau population estimates indicated, the story of population growth between 2014 and 2015 was largely about Texas, as it has been for the decade starting 2010 (See: “Texas Keeps Getting Bigger” The New Metropolitan Area Estimates). The same is largely true with respect to population trends in the nation’s largest counties, with The Lone Star state dominating both in the population growth and domestic migration among 135 counties with more than 500,000 population.

    Snip.

    Houston, which is the fastest growing major metropolitan area (over 1 million population) in the nation includes the two fastest growing large counties. Fort Bend County added 4.29 percent to its population between 2014 and 2015 and now has 716,000 residents. Montgomery County grew 3.57 percent to 538,000. In addition to these two suburban Houston counties, Harris County, the core County ranked 16th in growth, adding 2.03 percent to its population and exceeding 4.5 million population.

    Dallas-Fort Worth, the second fastest-growing major metropolitan area has two counties among the top 20. The third fastest-growing county is Denton (located north of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport), which added 3.42 percent to its population over the past year and now has 781,000 residents. Collin County, to the north of Dallas County, grew 3.17 percent and now stands at 914,000 residents. Its current growth rate would put Collin County over 1 million population by the 2020 census.

    Travis County, with its county seat of Austin, grew 2.22 percent to 1,177,000 and ranked 12th. Bexar County, centered on San Antonio grew 2.01 percent and ranks 17th.

    Overall, Texas had four of the five fastest growing large counties, and seven of the top twenty. California had none. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • The Austin metropolitan area passes 2 million people.
  • The California Policy Center has a devestating roundup of what’s wrong with California’s economy. To wit:
    • “A now has by far the nation’s highest state income tax rate. We are 34% higher than 2nd place Oregon, and a heck of a lot higher than all the rest”
    • “CA has the highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.5% (does not include local sales taxes).”
    • “California in 2015 ranked 14th highest in per capita property taxes (including commercial) – the only major tax where we are not in the worst ten states. But the 2014 average CA single-family residence (SFR) property tax is the 8th highest state in the nation. Indeed, the median CA homeowner property tax bill is 93% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
    • “California has a nasty anti-small business $800 minimum corporate income tax, even if no profit is earned, and even for many nonprofits. Next highest state is Rhode Island at $500 (only for “C” corporations). 3rd is Delaware at $175. Most states are at zero.”
    • “California’s 2015 ‘business tax climate’ ranks 3rd worst in the nation – behind New York and anchor-clanker New Jersey. In addition, CA has a lock on the worst rank in the Small Business Tax Index – a whopping 8.3% worse than 2nd worst state.”
    • “The American Tort Reform Foundation in 2015 again ranks CA the ‘worst state judicial hellhole’ in U.S. – the most anti-business.”
    • “CA public school teachers the 3rd highest paid in the nation. CA students rank 48th in math achievement, 49th in reading.”
    • “California’s real poverty rate (the new census bureau standard adjusted for COL) is easily the worst in the nation at 23.4%. We are 57.3% higher than the average for the other 49 states.”
    • “Of 100 U.S. real estate markets, in 2013 CA contained by far the least affordable middle class housing market (San Francisco). PLUS the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th and 7th.”

    It’s like a whole bunch of Texas vs. California roundup statistics all in one big green ball of fail. Read the whole thing. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • “California’s 50% [minimum wage] increase would eliminate nearly 700,000 jobs—which means higher unemployment for the poor and least skilled in particular.”
  • Why did Carl’s Jr. flee California? Taxes, regulations and lawsuits.

    CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told the Wall Street Journal in 2013, “California is not interested in having businesses grow.”

    The article points out that many factors, including local building regulations, make one community less desirable than another for businesses.

    For example, it takes 60 days in Texas, 63 in Shanghai, and 125 in Novosibirsk, Russia for one of CKE’s restaurants to get a building permit after signing a lease. But in Los Angeles, Ca. it takes a whopping 285 days.

    Puzder added, “I can open up a restaurant faster on Karl Marx Prospect in Siberia than on Carl Karcher Boulevard in California.” The street in California is ironically named for the restaurant chain’s founder.

    California’s labor regulations may also play a role in a company’s desire to seek alternative locations. In that same interview with WSJ, Puzder said his company had spent $20 million in the state over the past eight years on damages and attorney fees related to class-action lawsuits.

    (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)

  • Justice Scalia’s death dooms the Friedrichs vs. California Teacher’s Association lawsuit.
  • “If a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s estimate is accurate, public pension debt in California is even worse than feared. Preliminary calculations from a forthcoming SIEPR study peg the unfunded retirement tab for state and local government employees at more than $1.2 trillion.” (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • Texas unemployment rates drops to 4.4%.
  • San Bernardino’s bondholders get screwed so the bankrupt city can continue sending money to CalPERS. (Hat tip: Pension Tsunami.)
  • California’s colleges are so money-hungry they’re screwing in-state students out of admissions so they can charge more to out-of-state applicants, including those who wouldn’t normally be able to get in. Sort of like the UT admissions scandal, but less politically connected and more widespread and money-grubbing… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • But there’s one type of student California admissions isn’t keeping out: antisemites. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Even the supposed beneficiaries of California’s high speed rail fantasy have become disillusioned with it.
  • A hot relocation to Texas rumor just in: “Plano – new home of Toyota Motor’s North American headquarters – has been mentioned as a possible relocation site for a Wichita-based subsidiary of conglomerate Cargill.”
  • Some Random Primary Results

    Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

    Not quite as down as I was last night. There’s lots of the commentary this morning on how Donald Trump under-performed vs. expectations.

    Here are some random primary results and links:

  • “So far, Trump wins open primaries and Cruz wins closed…and the calendar is starting to change toward more closed primaries.” Also: “So here’s where it potentially gets interesting. Although the media are looking forward to March 15, this Saturday (March 5) there are four Republican primaries/caucuses: Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine. All are closed.” If Cruz can take three of those four, it’s a whole new race. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Ted Cruz wins Alaska, despite Sarah Palin’s Trump endorsement.
  • It was generally a bad night on the anti-Joe Straus front. Straus won his primary, as did Jason Villalba, and Straus-backed Lance Gooden took out conservative Stuart Sptizer in the Texas 4th Congressional District, while Hugh B. Shine took out conservative (and bit of a loose cannon) Molly White. For a while it looked like Straus crony Byron Cook might lose, but he eked out a win over Thomas McNutt with 50.4%.
  • Michael Quinn Sullivan is a bit more optimistic:

    The chairman of the Licensing Committee, Wayne Smith, and the chairman of Special Purpose Districts, Doug Miller, are now facing tough run-offs against conservative challengers Briscoe Cain and Kyle Biedermann.

    State Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Straus loyalist on the powerful Calendars Committee, was defeated outright by Valoree Swanson in a four-way race.

    Meanwhile, decorated veteran Terry Wilson defeated liberal State Rep. Marsha Farney, who was rumored to have been tapped by Straus to helm the Public Education Committee in 2017.

    On the other hand, conservative fighters Jonathan Stickland, Tony Tinderholt, and Matt Rinaldi won big re-election fights. Stickland, Tinderholt, and Rinaldi were top targets of the establishment, with the opponents slinging copious amounts of mud to no avail.

    (Hat tip: Push Junction.)

  • Speaking of loose cannons, check out new Travis County GOP chair Robert Morrow.
  • Another Will Hurd (R) vs. Pete Gallego (D) matchup in the 23rd Congressional District. This is the only true swing U.S. House seat left in Texas, and it will probably come down to turnout. Gallego took the seat from Francisco “Quico” Canseco in 2012 and Hurd took the seat back for Republicans in 2014.
  • Shawn Dick beats Jana Duty for Williamson County DA.
  • Other Williamson County races: Robert Chody wins the Sheriff race over four challengers, Donna Parker and Landy Warren are going to a runoff for County Commissioner Precinct 1, and Laura Baker and Warren Oliver Waterman are going to a runoff for Williamson Court-at-Law No. 2 Judge.
  • Probably more later…