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Williamson County Judge Gattis suspended after alleged budget threat

By: Andy Jechow

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct said its decision was a result of the charge, a Class A misdemeanor, and would be in effect until further notice.

As county judge, Gattis, 76, has served as the chief executive of Williamson County since 2007.

Judge Gattis is accused of threatening to zero the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office budget if Sheriff Robert Chody continued to use Twitter.


Ethics chair says the current facts don’t warrant investigation regarding Texas Tech

By Matt Dotray / A-J Media

The surprise retirement of Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan is still being analyzed with curiosity and skepticism.

Unnamed sources said members of the Texas Tech Board of Regents had an informal vote of no confidence in the chancellor during a closed session shortly before Duncan announced his retirement. A 5-4 majority wanted new leadership. Regents have not spoken about what led to this decision, which has led to a lot of speculation.

Some state officials have hinted for an investigation, which would likely be done by the House General Investigating & Ethics Committee. The committee is chaired by Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, who sent a statement to A-J Media after being asked about that possibility.

Davis said she does not believe a hearing is warranted at this time.

She said she will continue to monitor developments and welcomes any additional information.

Here’s her full statement:


Judges Shut Down Professors’ Attack on the Second Amendment


An effort to stop Texans from legally carrying handguns on university campuses has failed. What some would call a twisted interpretation of the Constitution by three University of Texas at Austin professors was soundly shut down Thursday by a panel of three federal judges.

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges determined the professors’ claim that the campus carry law infringes upon their First, Second and 14th Amendment rights was invalid.

The claims made by the professors in their lawsuit filed two years ago may leave some people scratching their heads. The reason may be found in a review of the facts.

The full ruling of the judges may be viewed online. Here is the basic breakdown, one amendment at a time:


Austin sick leave ordinance temporarily blocked by judge (VIDEO)

By Spectrum News Staff

TEXAS — The Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District has temporarily blocked Austin’s paid sick leave ordinance from going into effect.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, a right-leaning think tank, brought the lawsuit against the city.

Through its litigation center, TPPF represents a coalition of Austin businesses and business associations who say the ordinance would hurt their bottom line.

The ordinance mandates businesses with 15 or fewer employees to provide workers six days of paid sick leave a year.

That number goes up to 8 for larger businesses.



Grace Carr

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the privacy rights of Texas bishops Thursday, affirming a ruling that an abortion group does not have a right to the bishops’ internal communications.

The court rejected the pro-abortion group Whole Woman’s Health’s July 30 request for a rehearing Thursday, upholding its previous decision that the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is under no obligation to turn over its internal communications on topics of abortion.

The court pointed to “constitutional protection of religious belief” in its ruling and noted that the abortion group’s effort to obtain full access to the bishops’ internal affairs “looks like an act of intimidation.”

Thursday’s ruling comes after Whole Woman’s Health sued the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops in December 2016 over its support for a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to cremate or bury aborted babies. A federal court blocked the law from taking effect.

Beto O’Rourke tries to tap border region’s ‘fierce pride,’ anger at Trump’s immigration policy

Robert T. Garrett

BROWNSVILLE — Beto O’Rourke is trying to drive up turnout in South Texas by tapping into passions stirred by separation of immigrant children from their parents and widespread revulsion toward corporate-funded politicians.

His strategy for converting the lower Rio Grande Valley from primary-night embarrassment to November surprise also relies heavily on word of mouth about his relentless stumping and the border region’s resentment of how it’s been treated by Washington and Austin.

In a swing through Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville over the weekend, the Democratic Senate candidate excited large crowds most when he talked about clean-money elections and pivoting U.S. immigration policy away from building a wall along the Texas-Mexico border and toward helping young people brought into the country without papers.


Body reportedly found of missing retired priest in Texas

By Mary Ann Bragg, The Cape Cod Times

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — The remains of a retired Roman Catholic priest reported missing Aug. 1 in southeastern Texas may have been found.

The City of South Padre Island Police Department was investigating the disappearance of William Costello, 71, after he was last seen at a South Padre Island condominium complex, police said.

Costello, who had been a pastor of a church Massachusetts church, retired and moved to Texas approximately three to four years ago, according to Diocese of Fall River spokesman John Kearns.



Sen. Schatz on HUD Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

By Big Island Now

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a formal complaint against Facebook. In its complaint, HUD alleges Facebook allowed homeowners and tenants to discriminate against potential buyers and tenants through targeted ads that allowed them limit ads for homes to certain people, violating the Fair Housing Act.


Border Patrol: Undocumented Mexican family made $150 for each immigrant sheltered

Documents revealed how immigrants would cross the border, stay at the family’s home and then continue to be smuggled up north.

Oscar Margain

McAllen, Texas — Running a human stash house can be quite profitable, as the Border Patrol suggests in recent court filings. Human traffickers earn thousands of dollars for hiding undocumented immigrants from authorities.

The KENS 5 Border Team followed up on the story that first broke a week ago. Information has surfaced that better explains what was going on behind closed doors.

A confession by a detained undocumented immigrant seeking to get past a border patrol check point in Falfurrias, Texas is what gave investigators the lead they needed to crack down on the human stash house.

On August 6, 29 undocumented immigrants from Mexico, Central America and China were arrested. Among them, 3 Mexicans who are accused of running the operation: Jesus Rodriguez Rivas, his wife, Bertha Salazar Aleman, and their nephew, Jonathan Ramirez Aleman.

Documents filed in federal court reveal how agents began surveilling the Edinburg home days prior to the raid.


Smoking banned in all public housing

The new rule went into effect on July 31

Andrew Beam

Smoking has been banned in public housing complexes nationwide, after a new rule put in place by the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development went into effect on July 31.

This includes more than 2,000 housing units in Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery and Fulton counties.

The ban was meant to address issues with secondhand smoke, fires caused by cigarettes and reducing the cost of cleaning a unit used by a smoker.

Housing authorities were notified of the pending change in November of 2016, when it was announced by then-HUD Secretary Julian Castro. It gave housing authorities an 18-month window to implement the new rule.

Some housing authorities had already instituted the ban at some of their facilities prior to the new rule being announced by HUD. Those include the Schenectady Housing Authority, which banned smoking indoors, including in renters’ own apartments, back in 2012.