Archive for the ‘Austin’ Category

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#U of a series)

Friday, July 24th, 2015

The latest APD firing: Officer VonTrey Clark.

It seems unlikely that former officer Clark will be appealing his firing for two reasons:

1. He is allegedly in Indonesia. Thing I did not know: Indonesia does not have an extradition treaty with the US. Good to keep in mind…

2. Former officer Clark has bigger problems.

I haven’t written much about this for various reasons, including the lack of non-paywalled links and the fact that the story is just sad and awful. But I might as well try to summarize here.

A woman named Samantha Dean was killed in February. She worked in victim services for the Kyle PD and was seven months pregnant.

The police have been investigating her murder for months now. Apparently, they now believe her baby was the product of an affair with former officer Clark. Clark has not, to the best of my knowledge, been charged with any crime. What I’ve picked up so far is that investigators think Clark arranged for other associates of his to commit the murder, and I suspect that they’re trying to get at least one of those associates to roll.

In the meantime, APD fired Clark for “withholding information during an internal investigation and associating with known felons”.

Here are a couple of half-decent stories from local TV stations KEYE and KVUE. The KEYE story contains a lengthy response from Clark’s attorney: in case you were wondering, Chief Acevedo’s allegations are “slanderous” and consorting with known felons is a “trifling policy violation”.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#T of a series)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

You may recall Blayne Williams, the APD officer who was suing the department for not promoting him, even though he’d been suspended twice and fired once.

Officer Williams has been fired again. I apologize that I can’t find a non-paywalled Statesman link, but the first two paragraphs of the story and the “story highlights” I think convey the gist of the story.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#S of a series)

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Blayne Williams is an officer with the Austin Police Department.

Officer Williams has what might be called a “colorful” history. He was fired in October of 2013 after an incident at a local hotel. Last November, the arbitrator overturned Williams’ firing, reducing it to a 15-day suspension.

Previously, in 2011, Officer Williams was suspended for 90 days after he got into a physical altercation with an HEB employee while he was off duty. He was also charged with “assault on an elderly person”, but that charge was dismissed “and eventually wiped from his record after he completed probation and had the charge expunged”.

The hook now is that Officer Williams is suing. Why? He claims the police department “wrongly passed him up for promotion”. Yes, I kid you not: a guy who has been suspended twice in four years and was almost fired is claiming he should have been promoted to either corporal or detective.

Oh, by the way: in addition to his suit against the city, Officer Williams already has a lawsuit pending in federal court, claiming his firing over the cellphone incident was in retaliation for discrimination claims he’d filed previously.

Hand to God, people, I don’t make this stuff up.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#R of a series)

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I would have sworn that I wrote about APD lieutenant Jason Disher back in October, but I can’t find it now. This one may have gotten past me.

Anyway, Lt. Disher was having an affair with a woman who was married. This was a long lasting affair: Disher told a detective “eight or nine years”. At some point, according to Disher, the woman’s husband “started harassing him and making threatening phone calls”. The detective issued an arrest warrant for the husband.

The woman Disher was having the affair with later came forward and said Disher’s claims that led to the warrant were false. There was an investigation, and Disher was fired.

Old news? Not so fast; if you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you can guess what happened next.

Yes! The arbitrator overturned Disher’s firing! The Statesman doesn’t go into detail on the reasons, and I hesitate to speculate. But isn’t it interesting…

Disher told investigators he was aware that some of the information in the husband’s arrest affidavit was not true, but he made no effort to have it corrected.

More tags that I don’t get to use together enough.

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

This would be the “Food->Beef” and “Austin->Politics” tags.

Lawrence wrote earlier this week about the city’s proposed “code change to limit barbecue smoke in residential areas”.

The council meeting was last night. And?

At today’s meeting, the Austin City Council voted to start a stakeholder input process on possibly regulating barbecue smoke from restaurants.

So we’ve gone from a code change to “starting a process to get input from stakeholders”.

Recommendations will be made by the city manager to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Economic Opportunity Committee. After July 31, there will be another chance for public comment.

“Recommendations will be made”. Nice use of the passive voice there.

I was actually in favor of the original version of the resolution, and I’m kind of sad to see it watered down. Why? Well, I’ve never seen an entire city council tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail…

But the police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Two Austin police officers were suspended after they fired their guns accidentally last month, according to disciplinary memos made public Wednesday.

Both officers were suspended for “accidentally” discharging their “patrol shotguns”. One was suspended for three days, and the other officer was suspended for one. (The reason for the difference is not clear. Based on the Statesman‘s reporting, it doesn’t seem that there were any injuries.)

Not gun related, but another officer is being suspended for 16 days. Apparently, he violated guidelines in his handling of a sexual assault case involving a child, and became “involved in a civil matter in violation of the department’s policy”. (These were unrelated offenses, just to be clear.)

Your city council, ladies and gentlemen.

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I just finished updating the “Contact information for the Austin City Council” page with the latest information. Please let me know if you find any errors or omissions.

The pages on the city website appear to have eliminated actual email addresses (relying instead on contact forms): if you happen to have a real address for your council member, you might share it. Fax numbers are also not present, but that may be an artifact: it looks like they’ve reorganized the phone system to make things a little more logical.

It hasn’t been that long since the council was sworn in, and I’m sure it will take some time for the council members to get their individual pages set up the way they’d like. I’ll try to keep an eye out for changes, but, again, I’d appreciate help from my readers on that.

I still need to get the Travis County Commissioner’s Court page updated, but with a little bit of luck I’ll be able to do that on my lunch hour.

Edited to add: The Commissioner’s Court page is now updated.

What does it take…

Friday, December 19th, 2014

…to lose your job as a cop?

If you’re the police chief in Phoenix, the answer is “insubordination”. Specifically, calling a press conference and demanding a new contract after the city manager said “Don’t DO that!” seems to be a sure way to get yourself terminated.

If you’re with the Austin Police Department, the answer is “running your mouth to a reporter”. Technically, Andrew Pietrowski “retired”, but it seems like his retirement was just ahead of “being canned by Art Acevedo”.

“Now, stop and think about this. I don’t care who you are. You think about the women’s movement today, [women say] ‘Oh, we want to go [into] combat,’ and then, ‘We want equal pay, and we want this.’ You want to go fight in combat and sit in a foxhole? You go right ahead, but a man can’t hit you in public here? Bulls–t! You act like a whore, you get treated like one!”

The way I read this, it wasn’t like Pietrowski was asked for his opinion; he just walked up to a reporter who was there for another reason and started spouting off.

The Taste of Schadenfreude.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

From the Austin Chronicle‘s runoff endorsements for District 8:

In October, when we endorsed Scruggs, we noted his bulldog efforts to create a Demo­cratic outpost in Circle C, his attention to thorny issues like global warming and gun control, and his affable leadership style.

Ed Scruggs was also one of the people who lobbied the Travis County Commissioners not to renew the contract for gun shows at the Expo Center.

How did that work out for you, Ed?

ed

Oooooooh. Not so well.

By way of Overlawyered, here’s an Orange County Register article on the Costa Mesa PI case, which I wrote about a few days ago.

I was not aware that the law firm had shut down; that’s a good first start, but nothing in the article indicates that any of the lawyers involved have been forced to surrender their licenses.

Even after the phony DUI report, as the union attempted to distance itself form its former law firm – Lackie, Dammeier, McGill & Ethir – and the P.I.’s records show that money continued to flow from the union to the law firm to investigators.
The affidavit shows that even after the union said it fired its law firm, after word of the DUI setup got out, the union continued to pay its elevated retainer rate of $4,500 per quarter to the firm as late as January 2013. Lanzillo and Impola were paid by the law firm through January, as well.

Another thing I’m curious about: why does the Costa Mesa Police Department continue to exist? At this point, given that the department is clearly out of control to the point where they’re threatening politicians, wouldn’t it be better to disband them, fire everyone, and let the county sheriff’s department patrol Costa Mesa until they can build a new department from the ground up?

(Of course, this being California, many of the crooked cops from Costa Mesa will probably end up with jobs in the sheriff’s department or other cities in the area.)

In case you were wondering…

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

The runoff election was today. The polls closed at 7 PM.

According to the Statesman, Mike Martinez called Not Mike Martinez at 7:15 to concede.

Also, in case you were wondering, Steve Adler was the only candidate who responded to my emailed question about Art Acevedo’s future. That’s why you haven’t seen any updates: because Martinez, Sheri Gallo, and Mandy Dealey couldn’t be arsed to answer.

Steve Adler.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

We have our first response on the Art Acevedo question, from the Steve Adler campaign.

Since I didn’t state I would be publishing the replies here in my original email, I don’t feel comfortable doing so now. But I can summarize: as you might have guessed, it was the usual politician glurge.

  • The City Council doesn’t hire or fire the police chief, the city manager does. (Perhaps so, Steve, but if the city council says they want the chief gone, I’m pretty sure the city manager takes notice.)
  • Police officers need to be held accountable. (Also, apple pie and motherhood are good things.)
  • “…we need to work diligently to improvement relations between them and the public”.
  • Gratuitous Ferguson reference.
  • Steve Adler has spent much of his life fighting discrimination as a civil rights lawyer yadda yadda yadda.

Not very satisfying.

Random notes: December 9, 2014.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

I’ve emailed the two candidates in my Austin council district and the two that are running for mayor, inquiring about their positions on Art Acevedo. So far, I have not received an answer from any of them.

As a Libertarian, I am generally opposed to foreign military intervention, absent a direct threat to the United States. I am not convinced that it is our job to impose democracy on foreign countries.

However, if we are going to overthrow a totalitarian regime and bring about democracy, can we start here?

Obit watch: Ernest Brace. He was a civilian pilot working for the CIA in Vietnam; in 1965 he was captured by the enemy and spent nearly eight years in North Vietnamese prisons. John McCain was in the cell next to him.

I sent this to Weer’d for the “Gun Death” files, but it seems worthy of note here: Japanese “Black Widow”.

According to the police and news media reports, Mr. Kakehi was just one of six outwardly healthy elderly men who died abruptly over the last eight years after marrying or starting romantic relationships with Ms. Kakehi.

Anyone want to guess what she didn’t use to (allegedly) kill these men? Anyone? Bueller?

Also among the dead: Nathaniel Branden, “writer Ayn Rand’s former devotee, lover and intellectual heir”. I know this is a few days old, but I’ve been waiting for an obituary to be published in a reputable source that I’m willing to link to. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

Jonathan Yardley has retired from the WP. His last piece was published this past weekend.

I wanted to make note of his retirement here because I liked Yardley’s writing very much. In particular, he was responsible for one of my favorite things ever done by a book critic: “Second Reading”, where he went back and reconsidered books he’d previously read. And he wasn’t a snob: he’d go back and re-read a classic like “Gatsby”, but he also covered Hunter S. Thompson, John D. MacDonald, Josephine Tey, and Charles Willeford. There is a very good book, Second Reading, that collects about half of these columns; the other half are available in various places on the web, or you can search the WP website. (I think the Post’s tagging of Yardley’s columns is a bit inconsistent, though.)

God bless you, Mr. Yardley. May you enjoy your retirement. And if you’re reading this and happen to find someone whose work you enjoy as much as MacDonald’s, would you drop me a line?