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3rd Court of Appeals to make history with all-GOP bench

Photo: www.bobpemberton.com

For the first time since the 3rd Court of Appeals was expanded to six judges 34 years ago, every member the Austin-based court will be Republican when newly elected Jeff Rose takes office as chief justice on Jan. 1.

Rose defeated Democrat Diane Henson by eight percentage points in Tuesday’s general election.

Rose will replace retiring Chief Justice Woodie Jones, the lone Democrat on the 3rd Court of Appeals. Gov. Rick Perry appointed Rose to the court in 2010, and he won election as a justice in 2012. He will serve a six-year term as the court’s leader.

Henson, elected to the appeals court in 2006, was seeking to return after she was narrowly defeated in 2012.

The governor, a Republican, will choose ……Read more.

 

By Chuck Lindell – American-Statesman Staff

Op-Ed: Trial Before A Family Court

The evidence is gathered. It began with an accusation from a vague report that a child was being harmed in some way. There was no physical evidence, only a report of some kind of mental abuse. The twelve year old girl was of a  group of girls. She, and others began to have seizures, crying out, and an anonymous report was made to the government authority that would investigate.
An investigator was sent to compile the report. The little girl told the investigator that a baby sitter had mentally tortured her. The abuse had led her to become very disturbed. She began to black out, have hallucinations, and could barely hold anything on her stomach. She was sent by the investigators to a doctor, who, after a thorough examination, concluded that, even though there were no outward sings of abuse, the abuse was indeed of the mind, and the doctor had good reason to believe that the baby sitter had indeed performed some type of abuse on the child.
The parents, of course, had great concern, and fully cooperated with the investigation. After all, it was they who had first noticed the problem with the girl. Upon interview, the little girl named some of her friends, who had also been cared for by the baby sitter, and they, too, had developed various stages of mental issues, which upon seeing the baby sitter, would manifest in hysteria.
The parents of all these girls were appalled. The baby sitter was.brought up on charges of child abuse of the most base type. In court the girls would describe games that she would play with them, and even during testimony they would become distraught.
The government investigators reasoned now that if this baby sitter, indeed, all the baby sitters in the employ of the agency, could be doing this form of child abuse, then how could the parents not notice this for so long a period of time. It was decided to question the parents also. The evidence was clear. Most of the parents were simply too wrapped up in their lives to attend to the welfare of their own children, and this very fact led to this massive amount of abuse at the hands of this group of trusted caretakers.
In closed court, with no jury several of the parents were brought up. While there was no actual physical evidence to support the allegations, the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming, combined with the Doctor’s report of the mental state of the children, and the investigator’s reasons to believe that something sinister was at hand here.
After the hearing the initial little girl was removed by the court and placed in the care of the government. The parents’ lifestyle was seemed to be just too unorthodox and they should not be trusted with a child, not even their own!  There was no reprieve. There was no defense. The judge’s decision was final. It would later be revealed that this judge was a protege of a certain councilman who had an interest in the holdings of  the parents of the first little girl. The judge fully understood that an unfavorable ruling against them would earn him the political gratitude of the councilman, which would quickly translate into votes come next election, and assure the judge of a continued tenure of office. Of course the ruling would lead to the public and financial ruin of the family, forcing them to sell their holdings at a reduced rate with the councilman more than willing to pick up at mere pennies on the dollar.
Before the investigation was over more baby sitters were brought up on charges, with the children’s stories becoming more and more detailed until some of the baby sitters were actually brought up on criminal charges, and more than a few of the children were removed from their homes.
I know you think I am talking about the CPS.  I apologize for misleading you. I was describing the Salem witchcraft trials. Now, do you understand?  Do you FINALLY understand?
By Wilbur Witt
Wilbur-Witt

Dallas Police Association president ‘strongly condemns’ DA after ex-cop’s indictment

Photo: Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins (Nathan Hunsinger/The Dallas Morning News)

The Dallas Police Association’s president ripped into the district attorney Monday after a former officer was indicted last week on a manslaughter charge for a 2013 collision.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, DPA President Ron Pinkston said the association “strongly condemns” District Attorney Craig Watkins for the indictment of Bryan Burgess on Thursday. He suggested Watkins’ office had less than righteous motives for pursuing the indictment, which becomes official Tuesday.

“This last minute, election eve indictment of an innocent police officer is just another example of the unethical, politically motivated actions that are all too common from District Attorney Craig Watkins,” Pinkston said. “His office has had more than a year to review the facts of this case but instead of seeking justice in a timely manner, he chose to slow down the grand jury process to allow for a questionable indictment the day before the election.”

DPA President Ron Pinkston

The DPA has endorsed Watkins opponent, Republican Susan Hawk, a former prosecutor and state district judge, ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The association has been at odds with Watkins over his decision to kick police special investigators out of grand jury hearings ……read more.

 

TX: DFPS OFFICE OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS AND THE OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL ARE DESIGNED TO FAIL

Photo: WatchdogWire/ Jim Black

Department of Family and Protective Services under fire

The video below shows a statement made by yours truly at the Sunset Commission hearing on June 25. Texas wasted little time in proving it true.

The Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) is the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS ) internal ombudsman office that is charged with the job of making sure department employees follow policies and procedures. The Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts the same function within HHSC along with reviewing criminal activities of both agencies. Neither agency falls underTexas Criminal Procedure Art. §2.12.

Many may recall the Cook family’s Sunset testimony. During which, Chair Senator Jane Nelson indicated that if  proper protocol was followed but failed to resolve the issue then it became the duty of the legislature to fix the system.

After the hearing, Angel Cook met with both the OCA and OIG representatives. On Oct 2, 2014 the Cook children were released from the control of CPS after which Angel Cook released this statement.

It became quite clear that the promises of accountability made on June 25 were not adhered to. Neither the OIG or OCA found any wrong doing by the agency. How does this happen when the Cooks have so much evidence against them? The simple answer is the system is designed to fail.

On Thursday, Oct 9th, the agency posted the new Office of Consumer Affairs Handbook. While rather short it provided answers.

It appears that once a court makes a ruling on a case, OCA reviews are nullified. This means a caseworker can present lies, commit perjury, and fabricate evidence. If a bad court decision is the result the OCA can look the other way. How is this possible? Let’s look at the accountability timeline.

During the 1996-1997 Sunset review, Texas had the ability to void a caseworker’s immunity by adding subtitle (c) to Texas Human Resource Code §40.061 which reads:

(c) This section does not provide immunity to a department employee who, in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship in which child abuse is alleged or that arises out of a child abuse investigation, in a criminal prosecution for an offense in which child abuse is an element, or in the preparation of the suit or prosecution:

(1) commits or attempts to commit perjury;

(2) fabricates or attempts to fabricate evidence;

(3) knowingly conceals or intentionally withholds information that would establish that a person alleged to have committed child abuse did not commit child abuse; or

(4) violates state or federal law in the investigation or prosecution of the suit.

In 1999, the burden of proof to attain a “Reason to Believe” in a case was raised from “some credible evidence” to “preponderance of the evidence.” This preponderance threshold along with Administrative Reviews of Investigation Findings (ARIF), Ombudsman reviews, and due process through the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), were to address the concern that cases could erroneously remain in the central registry and thus unjustly affect a person’s future. All of which were addressed in the same Sunset cycle. And it appeared to work at first because federal adoption incentives dropped by 83 percent from 1999 to 2000.

But it appears  this was bypassed and effectively nullified in 2002 when Texas Administrative Code 40 TAC §702.841(b) was written.

(b) An Ombudsman Office Review is not available if PRS determines that a court of competent jurisdiction has issued an order that is legally consistent with the PRS finding on the allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation for which the Review was requested.

We saw adoption incentives again start to rise in 2006 after SB-6 stripped many of the family protections out of statutes in 2005. Texas now leads the nation in adoption incentives a full 47 percent higher than second place Florida and 142 times that of last place Massachusetts. Between 1998 and 2013, Texas has collected $63,592,654; Florida: $43,192,496; Massachusetts: $447,126. Massachusetts ranks #1 in child welfare services while Texas is #43. So it appears Texas would rather sell our children instead of provide services for them. Adoption Incentives gathered from here. State Rankings at Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2014 Kids Count data book.

While we thought we were going to see some positive results from the House Select Committee on Child Protection, we didn’t.  The chair simply dominated the hearings demonstrating (in many ways) how our child protection system became so flawed. We did appreciate the opportunity to gain better insight into the system and look forward to the committee’s report to the Speaker of the House. The problems with legislative interference are demonstrated here.

Both veterans and advocates alike were offended and did not appreciate Chairwoman Dawnna Dukes’ rant toward PTSD in veterans, when it is far more common in parents and children dealing with CPS. In addition, children also often develop Reactive……read more of this story here!

By Jim Black  

Deaf Smith Oak is no more

This photo of the Deaf Smith Oak near La Vernia was taken in 1996 by Wilson County amateur historian Shirley Grammer. It’s purported to be the tree Texian patriot Erastus “Deaf” Smith climbed in the 1830s to spy on the Mexican army.

 

LA VERNIA — The live oak tree from which Erastus “Deaf” Smith is purported to have spied on the Mexican army camped along the Cibolo as Texas fought for independence from Mexico……read more.

Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News

Falling Crude Prices Reveal The Flaw Of ‘Energy Independence’

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The declining price of oil is exposing the flawed notion of energyindependence. Global crude prices have fallen 25 percent since June, and the price of West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, hovers around $80 a barrel. The price decline comes as U.S. oil output hit its highest in three decades.

At the current prices, some producers are beginning to worry that shale wells, which use the expensive hydraulic fracturing process, may become too expensive to drill, at least in some parts of the country. While we haven’t seen a significant pull back yet, it’s a reminder of that the U.S. is unlikely to ever produce all the oil it consumes.

As I’ve pointed out before, despite politicians breathlessly talking about energy independence, the U.S. still imports about half of the oil it uses. That point often gets lost in the debate over whether to lift the 40-year ban on U.S. crude exports, but the export issue is related to refining capacity, not overall consumption. At the same time, U.S. posted the biggest increase in oil production of any country last year, surpassing 1 million barrels a day. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects U.S. production to reach 9.6 million barrels by 2019.

That has enabled us to cut back on imports, which combined with weak demand from China and little impact from geopolitical unrest in the Middle East has resulted in an abundance of oil on the world market. Saudi Arabia recently indicated it has no plans to reduce its production, and other OPEC producers are likely to follow the kingdom’s lead.

In other words, just by reducing our imports by 34 percent from their peak in 2005,we affected prices on the world market to the point that our domestic drilling boom may soon become too expensive to be economical in the current price environment.

It’s unlikely we could ever increase or maintain production at a high enough level domestically to offset the other half of our imports, but even if we found the capital, the reserves and will to do so, ……read more.

By Loren Steffy

Are There Any Bravehearts Left in America?

Photo: Patriot Update


“We the people of the United States, in order to perform more perfect Union, do establish justice of the United States, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

– Preamble to The United States Constitution

What if you woke up this morning, opened up the newspaper or turned on the TV to your local news channel and saw this:

“The Obama administration has been found criminal and corrupt. Impeachment will take place this week, and all administrative officials who have continuously broken the laws of our constitutional republic will be tried, convicted and brought to justice.”

Would you not be shocked? But why is that? It’s because American citizens have fallen so far from the Bible, the U.S. Constitution and, of course, what our forefathers established that we think justice is impossible.

Yet, justice is what preserves our republic.

I am reminded of the true story of William Wallace – most of you know him as “Braveheart.” William was told by the “Nobles” of Scotland that it was impossible to defeat the tyrannical king of England and his minions (which held Scotland in captivity to their tyrannical ways). They were too many (which is completely opposite of America’s state), too strong in every way for Scotland … or so they thought.

This one man, William Wallace, knew more than the “Nobles” of Scotland. He knew that freedom was not a gift granted to them by mere men or a tyrant king, but freedom was a right guaranteed to every man by God, which has been summed up in our Declaration of Independence.

Freedom was not a thing to be stripped away from the common people by a tyrant; Wallace knew that rights were granted by God.

The people of Scotland, outnumbered, outmatched, starving and without even the proper weapons to fight with, followed William Wallace, and eventually Robert the Bruce, into battle. Although it was a high cost to pay (namely, the life of William Wallace himself), they won their freedom and were delivered from the tyrannical king of England.

How could this be? How could the starving commoners defeat a skilled, well-trained, heavily armored army? It was because their freedom was more precious to them than anything in the world, and they would rather die than have it taken away. They were resolved and were willing to follow one man who believed they could secure it (1 Corinthians 11:1; Hebrews 12:2).

He hoped against all odds, believed God for the impossible – and look at the results!

Now take that to America. The “Nobles,” or shall we say most congressmen and women, will not stand up against the crimes that have befallen “we the people” at the hands of this administration. They have titles and positions they don’t want to lose, much like the “Nobles” of Scotland in the day.

But the tyrannical king of England was not defeated by the “Nobles.” He was defeated by the people.

Justice doesn’t need to be something we only dream about…….Read more at http://patriotupdate.com/articles/bravehearts-left-america/

by Bradlee Dean

Democratic ad brands GOP tea partiers ‘radical terrorists’

Bexar County Democratic Chairman Manuel Me- dina defends a controver- sial ad by calling the tea party “a terrorist or- ganization.”

Fear is the great motivator in politics. It’s always easier to scare someone to the polls to vote against your opponent than it is to persuade them to the polls to vote for you.

Lyndon Johnson’s campaign strategists understood that in 1964 when they conceived the infamous “Daisy Girl” ad, which hinted that the election of Johnson’s opponent, Barry Goldwater, would result in a “Dr. Strangelove” dystopia filled with nuclear mushroom clouds.

Manuel Medina understands this, too. That’s why the Bexar County Democratic Partychairman launched a new Spanish-language ad last Thursday on Univision, implying that tea party Republicans rank up there with ISIS as the organization most likely to behead us in our sleep.

The Univision airtime was bankrolled (to the tune of $25,000) by personal-injury attorney Thomas J. Henry, who has also made a big splash in the Bexar County district attorney race by donating more than $1.2 million to Democratic candidate Nico LaHood.

The Univision ad begins by showing the United States and Mexican flags waving next to each other, with a narrator saying, “These two flags represent friendship, liberty, opportunity and justice.”

That image is quickly replaced by the tea party’s “Don’t Tread on Me” banner.

This flag, the narrator warns us, is “muy peligrosa” (very dangerous).

“It’s the flag of the tea party Republicans. They are radical terrorists and they want to take matters into their own hands, affecting our children and families with violence and firearms on the border and in our cities.”

That accusation is accompanied by photos of Texas militia members in camouflage uniforms and a worried woman holding tight to her child.

Before we get to this ad’s fear-mongering message, there are a few elements to untangle.

First, it’s not quite fair to equate civilian militia vigilantes with tea party Republicans.

It’s true that many individual militia members sympathize with the tea party movement, and it’s also true that Republicans have been reluctant to criticize the border militias.

But they’re still separate entities, and any Democrat who resented hearing about how Barack Obama “palled around” with terrorists, simply because former Weather Underground radicalWilliam Ayers hosted a fundraiser for him in the 1990s, should appreciate the distinction.

“It’s disappointing that they would refer to the tea party that way,” said Allen Tharp, president of the San Antonio Tea Party and CEO of the Lion & Rose pubs.

Tharp says his group’s three main objectives are the elimination of government debt, tax reduction and individual choice on health care. He added that he doesn’t know anyone who is part of the border militias.

Second, when we talk about “tea party Republicans,” it’s important to differentiate between tea party organizations and GOP candidates who have the support of those organizations. They may share similar agendas, but they don’t speak for each other, in the same way that libertarians might admire Rand Paul, but they don’t speak for him.

Finally, as misguided and irresponsible as these self-appointed border vigilantes are, we might want to refrain from branding them “terroristas radicales” (as Medina’s ad does), when we know it’s a term that immediately conjures images of jihadists sneaking bombs onto commercial flights.

You can hate the tea party movement and still recognize the cynicism of a commercial that tells Spanish speakers a vote for a tea party-affiliated Republican is a vote for terroristic violence.

Medina defended the ad — which…..read more. 

BY GILBERT GARCIA

Battleground Misfires on Turnout Memo

 

Photo by: Callie Richmond – Jeremy Bird speaking at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sep. 28, 2013

Oops.

 

Battleground Texas, a liberal group working to boost Democratic hopes in conservative Texas, admitted Friday that it was wrong in claiming that early voter turnout in the state’s 70 largest counties was rising dramatically from the last gubernatorial election in 2010.

 

In a memo early Friday by Battleground senior adviser Jeremy Bird, a former top field organizer for Barack Obama, the Democratic group claimed early voting had increased by more than a third so far and that Democratically leaning voters — non-whites in particular — were turning out in much larger numbers than four years ago.

 

But that analysis fell apart when it became clear, based on an inspection of figures from the secretary of state’s office, that Battleground was using flawed data from 2010.

 

“The county data from 2010 was incomplete,” said Battleground spokeswoman Erica Sackin. She said the group was “clarifying and updating” the memo from Bird, which was taken down from the group’s website. Since the flawed data was used in calculating the demographic breakdowns, the big percentage of non-white voters said to be turning out can’t be trusted, either.

 

 

Using the lower baseline from 2010 produced a seeming 36 percent jump in the number of people showing up to vote, astronomically higher than the turnout rate in the 15 largest counties being tracked on the secretary of state’s website.

 

Those figures show 1,291,393 voted through Wednesday, an increase of 0.6 percent, or 8,164 people. Because the state has grown and added more voters to the rolls, the turnout rate has gone down so far in those counties. It was down 6.6 percent as of Wednesday and……read the rest of the story here.

 

North Texas town voting on fracking ban

Photo By Tony Gutierrez/AP 
File – In this July 15, 2014 file photo, from left, Topher Jones, of Denton, Texas, Edward Hartmann, of Dallas and Angie Holliday of Denton, Texas, hold a campaign sign outside city hall, in Denton, Texas. Tensions are mounting as big oil companies and hydraulic fracturing opponents try to sway voters to their side over a Tuesday referendum that would make Denton the first Texas city to ban further permitting of the drilling practice known as fracking.

DENTON, Texas (AP) — Anti-fracking activists and campaigners backed by big oil and gas companies sparred outside of voting sites on the last day of early voting in a North Texas university town that’s considering a ban on new permits for hydraulic fracturing.

The referendum is on Tuesday’s ballot in Denton, which is about 40 miles north of Dallas. Though pre-existing permits would remain valid, opponents have called it a wholesale ban on drilling.

“There are good drillers and bad drillers, and people with drilling near their houses should look into which kind they have before trying to ban it,” said Larry Schumacher, a paid campaigner for Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy, the political action committee created to defeat the measure.

Industry groups have warned the ban could be followed by litigation and a severe hit to Denton’s economy.

Scores of cities in other states have considered similar bans over health and environmental concerns. But the proposal in Denton is a litmus test on whether any community in Texas — the nation’s biggest oil and gas producer — can rebuff the industry and still thrive.

The rankling began when local activists submitted a petition to Denton’s City Council in June with enough signatures to force a vote on the ban. Because the council rejected it, the measure went to a public vote and is on Tuesday’s ballot.

“This is it. The city will uphold the ban as law” if it’s approved by voters, city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker.

Supporters of the measure have raised only a fraction as much as opponents, according to the city secretary’s latest political campaign reports.

Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy, based in Fort Worth, and Houston-based Enervest Operating have each donated $45,000 to Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy.

Ed Soph, treasurer of the Pass the Ban PAC, said most of his group’s contributions are individual donations of $50 or less.

“It’s David versus Goliath,” he says.

Fracking involves blasting a mix of water, sand and….read more.

By EMILY SCHMALL, Associated Press