Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Memo from the police beat.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

The APD officer who shot and killed a naked 17-year-old earlier this year, and who was fired by Chief Acevedo, has settled with the city.

Basically, what’s going to happen is that:

  • The arbitration process stops. So the officer won’t get his job back.
  • His firing gets reclassified as “a general discharge”. In theory, this means that he could get a job in law enforcement somewhere else. At least, according to the Statesman.
  • The fired officer gets $35,000. That seems kind of low to me, even if his lawyers aren’t getting a percentage.

Why settle, though? Well, the city may have felt like $35,000 was a cheap price to pay not to go through the hassle. And what if…

The public arbitration process would have held the fatal police shooting in the headlines for several days with hearings throughout next week. It also would have forced Mayor Steve Adler to testify in the hearing after Freeman’s attorney subpoenaed him.

So you get the mayor, you probably get Acevedo, maybe you get Chief Manley (no idea how involved he was in the decision making…

…and I hate to play the “I know more than you do” card, but I’ve heard some things through the grapevine that indicate the arbitration hearing could have gotten complicated and possibly embarrassing for some of the parties involved. The circumstances under which I heard this make me uncomfortable going into detail, but let’s just say: it seems like there was a chance (and not a “Chicago Cubs winning the World Series” chance; oh, wait, never mind) that the chief’s decision could have been overturned, and the fired officer placed back on the force.

It would have been interesting to see how that played out: does the APD need two people on pager duty? (Actually, by now, that guy would have 29 or 30 years in: he’s probably retired and collecting at least 76% of $98,000 a year, if not more and if I remember my APD pension math right.)

Well. Well well well. Well.

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Y’all read that Christmas story I linked to a few days ago, right?

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis to be secretary of defense, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform, according to people familiar with the decision.

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

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Chief Acevedo’s last day on the job was Tuesday. Yesterday, he was officially confirmed as Houston’s police chief, and takes over today.

Before he left, Chief Acevedo did an “exit interview” with the Statesman. It is fairly short, but there’s one interesting quote that I’ll pull:

The (closure of the police) DNA lab really bothers me. I wish that we wouldn’t be here today where we’ve had to shut it down for so many months because our scientists decided to go onto an island to themselves. The lab is not reopened, and it probably won’t be open until early next year, so that’s the one thing I kind of leave undone, understanding that the work never ends.”

Why is this interesting? Well, there’s a story that came out in the past day or so. Seems like the DNA lab had a problem with a freezer that wasn’t working.

The lab subscribes to a service that is supposed to alert staff when a freezer gets too warm, but because that system failed, officials said the samples were at an improper temperature for eight days — instead of a few hours.

This is the kind of thing that could compromise the integrity of the stored evidence. So what did the lab do about it?

… they decided to keep mum. They alerted no one outside the lab — not investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys or judges.
“If, in the future, the laboratory determines that a sample has been affected by this incident, the customer will be notified,” interim DNA technical leader Diana Morales wrote in a March 16 letter to her bosses.

That’s…not good, in my opinion. I might even go so far as to say:

Obit watch: November 26, 2016.

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Scum sucking dictator Fidel Castro is burning in Hell.

NYT. WP.

Cuban geopolitics is a little outside of my area of specialization (though I did stick a toe in those waters when I was taking “Modern Revolutions” with Dr. Sanchez back in the St. Edwards days). If I see any smart takes while I’m out and about I’ll try to link them here.

Edited to add: Various takes: Tam. Lawrence. Amy Alkon.

Edited to add 2: by way of a retweet from Popehat on the Twitter, the Miami Herald obit.

While I’m thinking about it, can I put in a plug for Stephen Hunter’s Havana? Not that it’s completely historical or anything, but I did think it was a fun book. (And Castro is a pivotal character in it.)

Public service announcement.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Partly as a reminder to myself, partly as a warning to any Austin area readers who may not be aware yet:

The weekend of December 3rd through December 5th, MoPac is going to be completely hosed going northbound.

A short stretch of northbound MoPac south of Enfield Road, for the last several months already reduced from three to two lanes, will be closed completely from midnight to 6 a.m. early Dec. 3 and 4, and midnight to 5 a.m. on Dec. 5. During the day and evening on Dec. 3 and 4, starting at 6 a.m., a single northbound lane will be open.

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

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

I don’t think this is going to be the last one, but we may be nearing the end.

Austin police Chief Art Acevedo is expected to be named Houston’s police chief, a source told the American-Statesman early Thursday, ending a 9 ½-year tenure that has made him one of Austin’s most visible figures while presiding in a time that ushered both progress and setbacks in relations between law enforcement and the community.

I have reservations, given that this is so far just “a source” said and there’s been no official announcement. Also, if he is taking the Houston job, I may want to continue the Art watch: it isn’t like he’s going to be on the other side of the world…

If this does become official, I’ll throw an update in.

Edited to add: The HouChron is quoting Mayor Adler as making it official.

Appearing comfortable before the cameras when Austin crime made national headlines, he became a national face for Texas’ capital city and in recent years had been mentioned as a candidate to head several other law-enforcement agencies – for the head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, as a finalist for police chief in Dallas and San Antonio.

Yeah. I had a theory (which was poo-pooed by others) that if Clinton won, he’d be moving to some sort of government position in homeland security. I guess I wasn’t too far off after all.

Edited to add 2: official statement by the Chief. (Hattip: RoadRich.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#34 in a series)

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Still on the road (somewhere between Oklahoma City and Tulsa) but I wanted to get this up:

Aaron Schock, a former Illinois  congressman whose Capitol Hill office was decorated in the style of the TV show “Downton Abbey,” and whose six-pack abs landed him on the cover of Men’s Health, was indicted Thursday on charges that he misspent government and campaign money for his personal benefit.

It’s the usual story: the money went to things like seeing da Bears, remodeling, and a 2015 Tahoe. The only thing that really distinguishes it for me is that the crooked Illinois politician (is that redundant?) is a Republican this time.

Gonna see what them racket boys can do…

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

As much as I gripe about phone blogging, this is amazing technology. I’m currently riding right seat in an Audi somewhere outside of Hamilton, Texas, with Mike the Musicologist at the wheel. As I said previously, I expect to be busy over the next few days, but I wanted to note this story:

Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has seized power in Atlantic City, taking control of the assets and major decision-making in the struggling seaside gambling resort that is half a billion dollars in debt.

“This is an example of what this country could turn out to be under Chris Christie and President-Elect Donald Trump, taking away our rights and sovereignty,” said Steve Young, an Atlantic City community activist. “Who do we talk to as residents? What will government look like with the state of New Jersey overpowering the residents? We are headed for some bad times, and your city could be next.”

Hey, I don’t much like Chris Christie (and I think I’ve made that clear) but: “your city could be next”? If your city is half a billion dollars in debt and depending on a dying industry, maybe it should be next.

Random notes: November 9, 2016.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Look, I’m not the person you should be coming to for your day-after analysis. I’m not a political pundit: there are smarter, better people (many of whom don’t work for the mass media) who can give you a more serious take on all this.

I also haven’t had time to figure out what all this means for gun politics, and if it is a net win or loss for the 2nd Amendment. I did see that California’s ballot initiative passed, which didn’t surprise me, but I haven’t been able to find results for other states. I don’t think we’ll see an attempted assault weapons ban, or an attempt to end-run the PLCAA, and I do think we will get a friendly Supreme Court justice. But again, look to other people for their takes, because I haven’t thought this all the way through.

(Edited to add: Looks like background checks passed in Nevada, too.)

(Quick ETA2: According to Weer’d, Bloomberg’s background checks lost in Maine.)

(My big thought right now: “Hmmmm. I think I can wait until National Buy an AK Day to get that AK-47, instead of trying to pick one up this weekend.” This gives me some room to maybe, possibly, pick up something less serious and more fun.)

The first part of this week has been busy, and the remainder is going to be even more so. Posts will be as time and events permit. I notice Cleveland is playing on Thursday night this week, so I’ll try to have the loser update up sometime on Friday.

I’ve been somewhat negligent on TMQ Watch updates, but part of that has been hesitation to write about TMQ and Easterbrook. At this point, it appears Easterbrook has given up on TMQ for 2016, but is hoping to return in 2017, per his Twitter feed.

The reason I’ve been hesitant to write about this is that, also according to some things he’s said on Twitter, Easterbrook has been hospitalized for a while. While we tend to give TMQ a hard time about some things, Gregg Easterbrook is not on our short list of people we wish ill to: we send him our best wishes.

I will be updating the city council/county commissioners/state reps lists, but probably not until the new people take office and have contact information posted. i think it will be January before this happens.

Noted.

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

I voted early today.

There was almost no line. This was at around 12:30 PM at the Randall’s in Lakeway.

Just a data point.

Obit watch: October 25, 2016.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

The A/V Club is reporting (based on a Facebook post by his family) the death of Christian comics impresario Jack Chick.

A long time ago, I ordered a complete set of all the Chick comics (at the time) and some of the Alberto Rivera comics. I think I still have those in a box somewhere…

For the historical record: Tom Hayden.

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

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

I want to get this up while it is still fresh, but I don’t have as much time to think and write about as I’d like: I’m actually down at the cop shop tonight.

The chief recently had a closed door meeting with his commanders. Apparently, during the meeting, he laid into a few of them about not following his direction, especially with respect to relations with the minority community.

Someone taped the meeting and provided a copy to the Statesman. (Edited to add 10/21: Link fixed. Thanks, Uncle Kenny.)

Quick thoughts, based on a skim of the article:

  • Taping the meeting and giving a copy to the press strikes me as questionable.
  • I don’t see anything really outrageous in what the chief said.

I may have more to say on further reflection.