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Gender: Male
Hometown: Texas
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Current location: Red Hell Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
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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

Texas clerks look to derail web-based public access to court records

Texas court clerks are resisting a state proposal they say would strip them of their constitutional authority by making court documents available online for easy public access.

The statewide database, re:SearchTX, holds records from all 254 counties and is backed by the state’s Supreme Court. It currently is used by judges and soon will be available to attorneys and the public — who could search for civil court records and review them, all from the comfort of home.

Clerks say surrendering these records to a privately operated database would violate their role as custodians; the other side says this is an overstatement, and that taxpayers, not clerks, own the records. Clerks also say their departments will lose money with the public no longer having to head to a courthouse and pay printing fees of up to $1 a page. However, their opponents point out that the new system is set up so clerks would benefit from online users.

The clerks hope the Legislature will stop the new system through a bill introduced recently by state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, who contends that clerks and commissioners courts should decide whether their counties participate in the service. Clardy said the plan is fraught with problems, including maintaining privacy for documents that contain sensitive material such as Social Security numbers and record expungements.

Read more: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/texas-clerks-look-derail-web-based-public-access-court-records/pnNpmqoQlwe4s8xfBUZYbJ/

In Houston, DNC chair candidates talk fighting Trump, turning Texas blue

Some candidates vying to lead the Democratic National Committee appeared at the Regional DNC Future Forum in Houston on January 28, 2017. Clockwise from top right: Tom Perez, Jaime Harrison, Jehmu Greene, Keith Ellison, Pete Buttigieg, Peter Peckarsky, Ray Buckley, Sally Boynton Brown and Vincent Tolliver.

HOUSTON — Nearly a dozen candidates for Democratic National Committee chair descended here Saturday with an eye on boosting Texas' role in their party's national mission and an even sharper focus on battling President Donald Trump on all fronts.

Addressing DNC members and other party activists, the field of 10 candidates — seven of them considered serious — trained almost all their fire on Trump, assailing him as a threat to democracy who deserves little, if any, Democratic cooperation.

"Sign me up for the resistance," said Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. "What we have seen in the last seven days — I think we might be under-reacting. He's took a jackhammer to the foundations of American moral authority — and on the seventh day, he did not rest."

For Democrats, the latest affront came a day earlier, when Trump signed an executive order halting, for now, a U.S. refugee program and indefinitely suspending Syrian refugee admission. Buttigieg noted that as the candidates were speaking, "people who have looked to America as a beacon are trapped in a Tom Hanks movie at JFK airport," while former Labor Secretary Tom Perez called the move an attack on a program that already works.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/28/houston-dnc-chair-candidates-talk-fighting-trump-b/

Democrats make Texas central to 2018 midterms strategy

WASHINGTON – Nearly two years out, House Democrats are publicly staking their claim on the state of Texas for the 2018 midterms.

The House Democratic campaign arm, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, announced Monday morning that the party intends to target two longtime GOP incumbents that, until recently, have long been considered locks for re-election: U.S. Reps. Pete Sessions of Dallas and John Culberson of Houston.

The two races are in addition to the committee's targeting of U.S. Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio, who represents Texas' 23rd District, a perennial target that includes much of the state's border communities.

National Democrats' expansion into Dallas and Houston, along with several other Republican districts the committee has added to its target list, marks a highly aggressive strategy, one that is clearly betting on a deteriorating political environment for Republicans over the next two years.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/30/democrats-put-texas-center-2018-midterms/

Texas lawmakers fired up about state CPS and foster care woes

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Commissioner Hank Whitman took another verbal shellacking on Monday as Senate Finance Committee members grilled him about his budget requests.

In a scene reminiscent of a similar hearing in October, lawmakers expressed dismay that the troubled agency was still struggling to see hundreds of endangered Texas children even after receiving $150 million in emergency funding. Whitman and other DFPS officials tried to justify their budget requests for the two-year fiscal cycle and defended their use of emergency funding, which included hiring more caseworkers and bringing in law enforcement support to help find missing kids.

Causing the most tension among lawmakers was Whitman's admission that even with law enforcement help, every day between 400 and 450 "priority-one" kids — children who are 6 years old and younger — had not seen a caseworker within 24 hours.

For example, as of Jan. 30, the agency has not had face-to-face contact with 482 priority-one children statewide, according to agency documents. Among these children, caseworkers have attempted to see 220 of them.

Read more: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/30/texas-lawmakers-fired-about-state-cps-and-foster-c/

Why Bastrop's Lost Pines Could Actually Become Lost

The Lost Pines region cuts through a swath of southeast central Texas that’s not quite the Piney Woods and not quite the hill country.

But in the wake of the fires that scorched the region in 2011, doctoral student of agronomy at A&M, Caitlyn Cooper, says the Lost Pines could become just that: lost.

“That’s what the region has been known for – this really unique pine forest,” Cooper says.

According to Cooper, the fire wasn’t as bad as it could have been because of the heterogeneous patches it affected. There also isn’t anything inherently bad about forest fires in the first place, she says.

Read more: http://www.texasstandard.org/stories/why-bastrops-lost-pines-could-actually-become-lost/

San Antonio Cop Suspended for Poop Prank Again

San Antonio police officer Matthew Luckhurst apparently thinks poop jokes are really funny.

Some of you might remember Luckhurst as the officer the San Antonio Police Department announced it would fire last year after it was revealed he tried to feed an actual shit sandwich to a homeless person downtown. Now, according to newly-released city suspension records first reported by the Express-News, SAPD filed for another so-called "indefinite suspension" against Luckhurst in November after another feces-related prank. (He's reportedly appealing both suspensions.)

Here's what Luckhurst thought was so funny: Last summer, while pulling night shift on SAPD's bike patrol unit, another dude at the station, identified in suspension records as officer Steve Albart, decided to take a dump in the women's locker room. So Luckhurst followed, "defecated on top of the previously deposited excrement," and "intentionally" didn't flush, according to his suspension order. Luckhurst and the other officer then "obtained a brown substance the consistency of tapioca" and spread it on the toilet seat. Why? Because "a female officer requested the women's restroom be kept clean."

Juvenile, broey and gross, to be sure, but the prank pales in comparison to the Luckhurst's last poop joke. As we reported last year, SAPD Chief William McManus signed an indefinite suspension order against Luckhurst accusing him of bragging to fellow officers that, while out on patrol downtown, he'd "picked up some feces, placed it in a slice of bread, and put it in a Styrofoam container" next to an unknown homeless man in the hopes that he would eat it. McManus called Luckhurst's actions "a betrayal of every value we have in our community."

Read more: http://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2017/01/27/san-antonio-cop-suspended-for-poop-prank-again

Texas Rep Placed Under State Protection After Filing Bill to Ban Abortions

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, has been placed under the protection of the Texas Department of Public Safety after receiving death threats following his filing of a bill to criminalize abortion in Texas.

"Representative Tinderholt and his family have received multiple death threats leading to his family being placed under DPS protection on multiple occasions," Micah Cavanaugh, Tinderholt's chief of staff, said in a statement Monday. "Specifics to the threats cannot be discussed due to an ongoing investigation, and we do not intend to speak on behalf of law enforcement."

The threats began after Tinderholt filed his Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act on Jan. 11, according to his political consultant, Luke Macias. Under House bill 948, both abortion providers and women who receive an abortion could be charged with murder.

Cavanaugh said Tinderholt has also received assistance from the Arlington Police Department and Tarrant County sheriff's office. "All involved have done an incredible job protecting his family during this stressful time," the statement said.

Read more: http://kut.org/post/texas-rep-placed-under-state-protection-after-filing-bill-ban-abortions

Houston's 10 Best Places to See Celebrities During Super Bowl Week

The Super Bowl is going down at NRG Stadium on Sunday, February 5. Perhaps you’ve heard. There are some guarantees anytime a Super Bowl comes to town. Traffic will increase, hotel rates will spike and local eateries and bars will experience an influx of business. The two best teams in the league will face off, and many of their fans will descend upon the host city to root on their team.

Another thing is guaranteed during Super Bowl week – there will be celebrity sightings, and there will be many of them. These are ten places in and around town you’re likely to see a famous person or two leading up to the Big Game.


Club Nomadic is basically a traveling pop-up musical venue that shows up at major events like the Super Bowl and offers up some name-brand talent. This year, the venue is hosting Sam Hunt and the Chainsmokers on Thursday and Bruno Mars on Friday. Tickets aren’t cheap, but that’s to be expected. Taylor Swift will headline a Super Bowl Eve gig at Club Nomadic, but that one is invite-only, so good luck getting in. For those fortunate enough to score a ticket/invite, and in addition to the celebrities who will actually perform, you can expect Club Nomadic to feature its fair share of celebrities in town to run elbows and cut loose. (2121 Edwards, facebook.com/ClubNomadic)

Downtown is essentially Super Bowl central in the week leading up to the big game. In addition to Super Bowl Live concerts from the likes of Blue October, ZZ Top, Gary Clark Jr. and Solange – which begin on January 28 and run through Super Bowl Sunday – Discovery Green is serving as the broadcast home for Fox Sports 1. That means that a number of the network’s major shows – including the Skip Bayless/Shannon Sharpe vehicle, Undisputed – will air live from Discovery Green. In addition to the Fox talent on display (the network is airing this year’s Super Bowl), these shows will feature a number of celebrity guests, some of whom stick around to mingle with those in the crowd. (1500 McKinney, discoverygreen.com)

Read more: http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/houston-s-10-best-places-to-see-celebrities-during-super-bowl-week-9138217

Mike McCaul and the Case of the Mysterious Flip Flop on the #MuslimBan

Congressman Michael McCaul, who represents the sprawling 10th District of Texas and chairs the House Homeland Security Committee has some explaining to do, given his flip-flop of the highest order over the weekend about Trump’s executive order banning entry to people from some, but not all, Muslim countries. Given that he chairs the committee that actually oversees U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, you’d think he would have had his story straight from the beginning. On Friday, when the executive order was released, McCaul seemed to be 100% for it, issuing this statement (which includes the patented we-can-have-it-both-ways rhetoric we’ve been getting from Republicans throughout the Syrian refugee crisis):

Then on Saturday, we learned that one likely reason for McCaul’s approval and pledge to take action was that he helped co-author the order.

According to Republican-gone-wild Rudy Giuliani, McCaul was part of the inner circle tapped to assist in crafting to Trump’s Muslim ban so that it wouldn’t seem like a Muslim ban but would function like a Muslim ban. (Confused? You’re supposed to be.)

Here’s Rudy to tell you exactly how it happened:

Read more: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/32506/better-call-mccaul

How The Refugee Ban Is Affecting Texas

A snapshot of two of Texas’s busiest airports (DFW and Bush Intercontinental) in the aftermath of the refugee ban.

Tarek and Osama Al Olabi walked into the arrivals hall at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Saturday morning expecting to be reunited with their parents, who had just flown in from Dubai for a visit. The young Syrian men, who moved to the U.S. a few years ago to attend Southern Methodist University, instead spent the day pacing the crowded hall and seeking answers about whether their parents—who had traveled to the U.S. on valid B1 visitor visas—would be released from immigration detention. Their parents’ flight took off from Dubai at 2:57 in the morning, and the text of President Trump’s executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries was released more than an hour after they were in the air. “I heard about the signing but I was not expecting this,” Tarek told me Saturday night. “I thought it applied to people who are planning to come to the U.S. You cannot give people green cards and visas and then tell them not to come.”

In Dallas, almost fifty others arriving on various international flights Saturday found themselves in the same situation, held in a series of rooms controlled by Customs and Border Protection Saturday. By late Saturday night, that number had dwindled to nine, who spent the nights on cots furnished by the airport. The ACLU estimated some 200 people had been detained at airports nationwide, though Trump spokesman Sean Spicer put that number at 109 during his appearance on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning. The rollout of the order, which bars immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen—for 90 days and blocks all refugee resettlement for 120 days, has been rocky across the country, with local immigration officials making determinations of who should be allowed to enter on a case-by-case basis. (On Sunday morning, Reince Priebus announced that it would no longer apply to green card holders, according to the New York Times.)

Throughout the day Saturday, Tarek and Osama managed to communicate infrequently with their parents, who were exhausted and confused but were sometimes able to sneak their sons a furtive text message. Though their parents’ English is poor, they weren’t provided a translator to allow them to fully communicate with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents, who were asking them to sign expedited removal documents. Their father requested a lawyer but was not allowed one, despite the presence of a dozen or so volunteer attorneys milling about in the arrivals hall.

So the brothers walked through terminal D, where an impromptu protest in the international arrivals area grew throughout the evening on Saturday, from several dozen people around five in the evening to several hundred five hours later. The protestors in Dallas clutched signs (“This ban is only the beginning”) and chanted slogans (“No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here”). One American Airlines crew member took off his jacket and joined the chanting crowds for a few minutes before heading home. A public school teacher from Arlington shared that she came out after hearing about the protests from a friend; she is not particularly political, she said, but came out because the ban just felt wrong. “I don’t even know any Muslims,” she said. Moved by the solidarity, Osama hoisted a sign featuring the Syrian flag and the text “#he will not divide us.”

Read more: http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/refugee-ban-affecting-texas/
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