Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#21 in a series)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

“…Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.”

Yes, I am chortling.

Indicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee will soon be convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

Former California state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court Wednesday, admitting that he “knowingly and intentionally agreed with another person” to take part in a criminal enterprise and commit at least two offenses and affect state commerce.

More from the SFChron:

In return for the payments, which totaled $34,600, Yee said in his plea agreement that he promised to vote for legislation his donors favored, recommend a software company for a state contract, arrange a meeting with another state senator over legislation, and illegally import firearms, including automatic weapons, from the Philippines. He said the transactions covered a period between October 2012 and March 2014, when he was planning his campaign for California secretary of state.

You may recall that Yee was a gun control advocate, and was honored by the Brady bunch.

Also pleading guilty to racketeering were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president who served as a consultant and fundraiser for Yee, Jackson’s son, Brandon, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan.

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

The racketeering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This appears to be the Federal statutory maximum sentence. As we all should know by now, this figure is misleading. But:

Yee’s plea agreement, as described in court, did not include a recommended sentence. But the agreement for Keith Jackson, who admitted the same charge, specified that prosecutors could seek a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the defense could request a minimum of six years.

And the judge can ignore those requests and recommendations.

The important question: what of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow? Still awaiting trial, but the judge “asked prosecutors to include Chow, who is still in custody, in the next group scheduled for trial.”

Related question that you may have been wondering about: does the plea deal mean that Yee is going to roll on Chow? I can’t deny it: I love using the phrase “Yee is going to roll on Chow”. But:

The plea agreements do not require any of the four defendants to testify or cooperate with the prosecution, said Brandon Jackson’s lawyer, Tony Tamburello. Both Brandon Jackson and Sullivan pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy involving the Ghee Kung Tong.

The Ghee Kung Tong was Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s organization, which is described as “…as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in drugs, weapons and stolen goods” in the Federal charges against Chow.

Edited to add: Thanks to Ken at Popehat for linking to convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee’s plea agreement. I apparently can’t copy or paste stuff from the plea agreement PDF, so I’ll just note that Yee specifically admits to the gun running charges in his plea.

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.

The time has come…

Friday, May 29th, 2015

…to purchase a nice holster.

Hmmmmm. You can get a Dragon Leatherworks Quantum for a Browning Hi-Power…

Obit watch: May 6, 2015.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Former Speaker of the House and noted author (“Reflections of a Public Man”) Jim Wright.

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…

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#18 in a series)

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Gosh, I love writing these.

The recently re-elected governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, has resigned.

I started a post yesterday about the Kitzhaber scandal, but I was having trouble finding a way into it. Ace posted a good summary: as I understand it, much of the scandal involves Kitzhaber’s fiance, who is accused of influence peddling, not reporting income, ethics violations, and getting people fired who failed to respect her authority.

More coverage here.

Edited to add: this link was broken at the time of the original post, but the Oregonian‘s timeline of the scandal is working now.

10/9/2014 Hayes apologizes and admits to making a “serious mistake by committing an illegal act” when she married an 18-year-old Ethiopian national to help him secure residency in the United States. She appears at a news conference without Kitzhaber, saying she takes responsibility for the 1997 sham marriage.

Also, quote of the day:

There has been no word as to whether Kitzhaber required emergency surgery to remove his face from his palm after his assistant informed him that she had EMAILED orders to delete his EMAILS to EMAIL accounts that were subject to open records requests.

TMQ Watch: January 27, 2015.

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

So. It has come to this.

(Actually, we just like saying “So. It has come to this.” We’re also fond of “As foretold in the prophecy” and “so let it be written, so let it be done”.)

This week’s TMQ, after the jump…

(more…)

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.)

…and the gambling commission’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he’s signed an executive order for a controversial state takeover of financially strapped Atlantic City, installing an emergency management team to help dig the gambling resort out of “an enormous hole.”

(Subject line hattip, if you needed it.)

(The Chicken Man, in case you ever wondered about that lyric.)

Bad politician! No biscuit!

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh. Part I:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday, sending shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver’s party affiliation is given early in the second paragraph. This bit of trivia is in the fifth paragraph:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.

Mike the Musicologist tipped me off to this story a while back, but I’ve been kind of waiting until something happened with it. Something did. Sort of.

State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane could face charges of perjury, obstruction, and other crimes in connection with the leak of confidential information to a Philadelphia newspaper in an apparent bid to embarrass her political enemies, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

The grand jury has also recommended charges of “false swearing” and “official oppression”. Ms. Kane’s party affiliation shows up in the fourth paragraph. And the newspaper in question is the Daily News (paragraph seven).

The problem here is that the grand jury recommendation is only advisory: the decision on actually filing charges is up to the local district attorney (“Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman”), and I’m not sure what the odds are on that actually happening.

I’m going to drop this in here, even though it doesn’t fit with the “bad politician” theme, because I don’t have a better place to put it. You may be asking yourself, especially in the light of past coverage on this blog, “What does it take to get yourself fired as a cop in Philadelphia?”

Well, we have an answer to that question:

A former Philadelphia police detective will face criminal charges in connection with allegedly driving his girlfriend – a murder suspect – to Upstate New York, then hindering the homicide investigation by lying to detectives who were looking for her, The Inquirer has learned.

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.