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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 87,916

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Perry veto hobbled probe into multimillion-dollar DPS contracts

Prosecutors in the Travis County district attorney’s office were investigating multimillion-dollar contracts related to the Texas Department of Public Safety when Gov. Rick Perry vetoed state money for their office, the American-Statesman confirmed Friday night.

“We were investigating some issues with DPS contracts, but I can’t be more specific than that,” said Gregg Cox, who was heading the inquiry. The veto of $7.5 million in state money to the Public Integrity Unit — which is housed in the district attorney’s office and investigates ethics violations involving state officials — “definitely contributed” to the office’s inability to advance the investigation, Cox said.

Read more: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/perry-veto-hobbled-probe-into-multimillion-dollar-/njqbQ/ (subscription required).

[font color=green]CPRIT, DPS, HHSC, TCEQ, TYC...are there any state agencies not affected by corruption?[/font]

26 settle suit in Midland veterans parade crash that killed 4

LUBBOCK, Texas — Twenty-six people who were hurt or had family members killed when a freight train struck a veterans parade float in Midland two years ago have settled their lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad, both sides said Friday.

Lawyer Kevin Glasheen, who represents the families, said the settlement is confidential but they “are very satisfied.” The families of two of the four veterans killed in the November 2012 crash were part of the agreement. Many others were injured.

“It’s sufficient to give them security and comfort in their lives,” Glasheen said of the settlement amount.

Union Pacific spokesman Jeff DeGraff confirmed a settlement in an email but declined to give details or comment further. A trial involving 17 plaintiffs who are not part of the settlement is set for Jan. 26.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150116-26-settle-suit-in-midland-veterans-parade-crash-that-killed-4.ece

Boy Scouts' membership falls 7.4 percent

Source: Dallas Morning News

The Boy Scouts of America’s youth membership fell 7.4 percent last year, continuing a decade-long decline for one of the nation’s oldest youth organizations, a spokesman said Friday.

More than 2.4 million youth participated in its programs in 2014, along with just fewer than 1 million adults, spokesman Deron Smith said. Enrollment fell 6 percent the year before, and in previous years declined slightly or seen little to no change over the last decade.

Still one of America’s most influential groups serving youth, The Boy Scouts has tried to boost participation with new technology-based programs and a “high adventure” base featuring mountain climbing, kayaking and skateboarding.

Last year was also the first full year the Irving-based organization was open to openly gay youth, a compromise approved by its national leadership in 2013. But the organization still excludes openly gay adult volunteers.

Read more: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/local-news/20150116-boy-scouts-membership-falls-7.4-percent.ece

4th Texas health agency employee resigns

Casey Haney, a Health and Human Services Commission employee who received $97,000 in college tuition against agency policy, resigned today.

According to an email by commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman: “Casey Haney today notified Dr. Janek of his resignation, effective Feb. 6. He also agreed to repay the tuition that the agency paid to UT on his behalf. He is repaying $12,128 now (the cost of one semester). HHSC is asking UT for refund on the unused portion of the tuition. Once we know if we can get a refund, we will work out a repayment plan with Casey for the remainder.”

The commission allows employees to request tuition reimbursement once they complete courses, but Haney’s tuition was paid up front, which is not permitted. Haney was the deputy chief of staff for Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, who approved the agreement.

Haney is working on his graduate business degree at the University of Texas.

Read more: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/4th-texas-health-agency-resigns-amid-contracting-s/njqRY/

Perry spends $1 million in campaign cash fighting indictment

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry has dipped into his campaign coffers to spend more than $1 million on an all-star roster of lawyers hired to defend him against a felony indictment alleging he abused his power last year, according to state data made public Thursday.

The records detail for the first time just how much that legal dream team is costing Perry, who delivered a farewell speech Thursday and will officially leave office next week after 14 years as governor. He had originally used state taxpayer money to defend himself in the case, racking up at least $80,000 in legal expenses for one lawyer.

But Perry eventually bowed public pressure, changing course days after being indicted and announcing he would use his campaign account to pay his legal tab.

According to state data, Perry spent upward of $1.1 million on “legal defense” since the last week of August. Nearly 40 percent of the legal fees — more than $455,000— went to the law firm of lead counsel Tony Buzbee, a well-known Houston attorney.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/politics/article/Perry-spends-1-million-in-campaign-cash-fighting-6019169.php

Erica Stick is third top Texas health official to resign amid scandal

Erica Stick, chief of staff of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, resigned Thursday, the third top official at the sprawling agency to step down as state and federal investigators look into a no-bid, Medicaid anti-fraud contract canceled last month.

Stick is the wife of Jack Stick, the former chief counsel at the agency who resigned a month ago, after the American-Statesman revealed he skirted state procurement laws to broker multimillion-dollar deals with Austin tech firm 21CT.

Read more: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/erica-stick-is-third-top-texas-health-official-to-/njpwF/ (subscription required).

People are paying $80 for a BelfieStick that helps you to take a selfie of your butt

If you think the human race is going down the toilet, at least we’ll have selfies of what’s filling that porcelain throne.

Selfies have been all the rage, but the “belfie” — a pic of your buttocks, your booty, your flesh caboose — is yet another entry in the list of unnecessary social trends.

The BelfieStick looks to help curtail the physical strain of placing a cellphone behind you to snap a photo of that curvy frame.

Many celebrities have made “belfies” popular, including Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj, and you can two now with ease.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/article/BelfieStick-provides-landscape-photo-6017689.php

[font color=green]Is plumber's crack included?[/font]

Dallas County's commissioner districts discriminate against white people, lawsuit claims

A conservative group that lists a Texas lawmaker on its governing board has filed a lawsuit claiming that Dallas County violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against white people.

The suit filed in federal court Thursday by the Dallas-based Equal Voting Rights Institute argues that whites are a racial minority in the county and have been unable to elect their chosen Republican candidates to the Commissioners Court. It asks a judge to throw out the county’s district map and order a new one before the 2016 elections.

“Like something out of the bad old days, a southern electoral body (is playing) naked racial politics, intentionally using its power to minimize a dissenting race’s political sway,” the suit says.

Newly elected state Rep. Matt Rinaldi is one of four people on the institute’s oversight board, according to the group’s website.

Read more: http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2015/01/lawsuit-claims-dallas-countys-commissioner-districts-discriminate-against-white-people.html/

[font color=green]Good luck with that lawsuit.[/font]

Gohmert gets an oversight chairmanship, despite challenging House Speaker John Boehner

WASHINGTON — Challenging the speaker hasn’t kept Rep. Louie Gohmert from moving up in the House.

Gohmert, R-Tyler, will chair a new subcommittee that will investigate and oversee the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management and other agencies.

In that role, Gohmert said, he will “hold this administration’s feet to the fire for the good of every household in America.” Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, named Gohmert to chair the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

“The economy is ready to do amazing things if we loosen the death grip that this administration has had by using over 70,000 pages of new regulations each year,” Gohmert said in a written statement.

Read more: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/01/gohmert-gets-an-oversight-chairmanship-despite-challenging-house-speaker-john-boehner.html/

Board Shuts Down Enrollment in Lucrative Pension Plan for Dallas Cops, Firefighters

The DROP -- Deferred Retirement Option Plan -- program available to Dallas police and firefighters is a really good deal. When participants become vested in their pensions after 20 years of working for the city, they can elect to receive their pensions and continue working. The payments are placed into a DROP account that's guaranteed to receive 8 to 10 percent interest. Once they finally quit work, the pensioners collect. The program was created in 1993, ostensibly to give longtime officers who might otherwise leave the department a reason to stick around.

It's made millionaires out of many retirees -- 283, according to The Dallas Morning News -- but that wealth has come at a high cost to the city. With the massive losses the police and firefighters' suffered after the housing bubble burst in 2008, the plan became unsustainable. Wednesday, with a plan to lower DROP interest rates tied up in court, the pension plan's board elected to shut down new DROP enrollments indefinitely.

"{DROP costs} more than $300 million a year in accrued liability to pensioners in the DROP program. There's approximately $1.3 billion in the DROP plan against a total system size of $3.4 billion," says City Council member Philip Kingston, who sits on the pension's board. "This DROP program, until we're able to pay it down through attrition or are given some kind of relief by the courts or Legislature, it is going to absolutely hamstring our ability to hire."

Last year, Kingston and the rest of the board created a plan to lower interest rates gradually using a sliding scale. Pensioners sued and state District Judge Tonya Parker ruled against the rate changes, saying they violated the Texas Constitution. The pension board appealed the decision, but a final ruling in the case could take years.

Read more: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2015/01/board_shuts_down_enrollment_in_lucrative_pension_plan_for_cops_firefighters.php
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