Friday, March 23, 2007

Tex-centric postpourri

-- The Harris County sheriff's department will not try to recover the body of a woman murdered and thrown in a Dumpster because it would cost too much to dig her out of the landfill. I'm guessing this is going to be an issue in the coming municipal elections; the Democratic candidate for sheriff will probably be former HPD chief C. O. Bradford, no stranger to controversy himself. Particularly if the racial angle on this case is widened, it will be a problem for the GOP incumbent, Tommy Thompson Thomas.

-- OSHA don't come around here no more (which is probably why the refineries blow up so frequently).

-- The connection between the US attorney purge and the Texas Youth Commission sexual abuse scandal is noted by Czolgosz at DU: the president's appointees in the US attorney's office dropped the indictment in connection with the failure of oversight by the governor's appointees at the Texas Youth Commission, where minors in state custody were raped.

Texas Ranger Brian Burzynski explains:

"... I decided to file the case federally. An assistant US attorney in San Antonio and one from Washington D.C. came down and interviewed the victims. Following that," (the DoJ attorneys) "prepared an indictment but had to pass it up the chain of command for approval to prosecute. In the end, they didn’t get that approval because in essence, they could only be charged with misdemeanors under federal law. Federal law requires ' bodily injury' to make civil rights violations a felony".

Here is the actual email he sent setting out the sickening background. (It's a .pdf file.)

The assistant US attorney for the Western district of Texas, Bill Baumann, further explained that he dropped the indictment because "a felony charge under 18 U.S.C section 242 can also be predicated on the commission of 'aggravated sexual abuse' or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse. The offense of aggravated sexual abuse is proven with evidence that the perpetrator knowingly caused his victim to engage in a sexual act... by using force against the victim... Although none of the victims admit that they consented to the sexual contact, none resisted or voiced any objection to the conduct."

Yes, I'm sure that's true. More lurid details of this case here.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott was informed about the sexual abuse, but his men were busy peeking in little old ladies' bathroom windows (.pdf). The governor's office knew about the sexual abuse as early as 2004 2001 but felt "no need to respond" to allegations.

This is truly the worst yet, and it touches all the elements. And all the criminals, in both Washington and Austin.

-- On a lighter note, there is more evidence that Sheila Jackson-Lee just can't stay outside of the camera frame.

-- My soon-to-be-former state representative Borris Miles (only because I'm moving out of his district) threw gasoline on the controversy he started by removing art he deemed objectionable from the Capitol's hallway last week. I called his office and registered my complaint with his active censorship. I found that response more objectionable than the artwork in question, but there are several of my kindred progressive spirits who disagree.

Moving this weekend, so light posting ahead. I'm exchanging representation across the board as a result: trading Cong. Al Green, state Sen. Rodney Ellis, and Miles for John Culberson *puke*, Kyle Janek *meh*, and Ellen Cohen *yay*.

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