Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#26 in a series)

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

I haven’t been paying as much attention to the LA County jail scandal as I used to: things sort of got away from me.

But this is stunning and noteworthy: the former LA County sheriff, Lee Baca, has pled guilty to lying to the feds.

In a plea agreement filed in federal court Wednesday morning, Baca admitted that he lied when he told federal authorities that he was unaware that his subordinates planned to approach the FBI agent leading the jail investigation at her home.
Baca agreed not to contest other allegations leveled by federal prosecutors, including that he directed subordinates to approach the agent, stating that they should “do everything but put handcuffs” on her, the agreement said.

I believe this is the incident in question.

Baca’s plea deal apparently includes a provision that he won’t serve more than six months, and it seems possible that he could get probation. His #2 man, Paul Tanaka, is going to go on trial in March; the plea deal also apparently does not require Baca to testify against Tanaka.

Edited to add: longer article from the LAT about Baca’s plea.

“Operation Pandora’s Box”, summarized for your convenience.

A Bridge Too Far.

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey,

Who was for gun control before he was against it.

a once-commanding figure in the Republican Party who struggled to attract support for his presidential campaign but unsettled the race with his strident attacks on Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, ended his run for the White House on Wednesday.

Good riddance.

Obit watch: January 29, 2016.

Friday, January 29th, 2016

Paul Kantner, guitarist and founding member of Jefferson Airplane. SFGate. NYT. A/V Club.

In the ‘70s, Kantner and Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick recorded Blows Against The Empire, a sci-fi concept album that was even nominated for a Hugo Award.

Perhaps someone more familiar with Hugo history can answer this: was Kantner the only guitarist ever nominated for a Hugo (either individually or as part of a group)?

This was by way of Lawrence, who asks, “Has there been a huge number of important deaths this month, or is my view just distorted?” If his view is distorted, mine is, too.

I think there have been studies that show a peak in deaths in January: people who are on the edge try to hold out through Christmas and the new year, but after January 1st there’s nothing to hold out for and they’ve used up a lot of their strength. Even taking that into account, this January has been one of the worst months I can remember.

At some point, I may run a comparison of how many obit watches I’ve posted in January since I began this effort. If I do, I’ll post it here. (And I know that will be kind of skewed, too, but it is at least a start.)

NYT obit for Buddy Cianci. That’s something else I’ll try to get posted today.

Obit watch: January 28, 2016.

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

In great haste, because my lunch is about to end and I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest: former Providence, Rhode Island mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr.

ProJo coverage. I expect I’ll have more to say later.

Obit watch: January 17, 2016.

Sunday, January 17th, 2016

Catching up on a few from the past couple of days.

Dan “Grizzly Adams” Haggerty, for the record. NYT. A/V Club.

Both of the times Mike the Musicologist and I have gone up to Tulsa, Haggerty was a “special guest”. I thought about getting an autograph and maybe even a photo with him – if nothing else, as a present for my brother – but somehow, in all our wanderings around the show (and remember, it is a huge show) we never made it past where he and the other guests were sitting. I kind of regret that now…

Noted Austin public radio personality Paul Ray died on Friday. Statesman. KUTX.

Flames, hyenas, etc.

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

I wanted to wait a little bit for the paper of record to fully update their coverage. Now that they have:

Sheldon Silver, former speaker of the New York State assembly: Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

Mr. Silver, 71, a Manhattan Democrat, was convicted on all seven counts against him. The charges of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering stemmed from schemes by which he obtained nearly $4 million in exchange for using his position to help benefit a cancer researcher and two real estate developers.

I am worried, though, about the jury issues:

Last week, as the jury first convened to deliberate, a juror sent a note to the judge, Valerie E. Caproni, asking to be excused from the case and saying she was “feeling pressured, stressed out … told that I’m not using my common sense, my heart is pounding and my head feels weird.”

On Monday, a second juror asked to be removed from the case, citing a conflict of interest related to his job. The juror, Kenneth Graham, a taxi driver, told the judge he had learned during the Thanksgiving recess that the owner of the medallion cab he drove was a good friend of Mr. Silver’s, and belonged to the same synagogue as the assemblyman.

I’m hoping this doesn’t give Silver grounds for a successful appeal.

Time flies.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Damn. It has been a year since that asshole tried to shoot up the police department and got center-punched for his trouble? Where does the time go?

One year later article from the Statesman, which has some details I either didn’t know or forgot.

Johnson turned protective. Still holding on tightly to the horses’ reins with his left hand, he pressed his chest against one of the garage’s concrete pillars and drew his weapon, the Police Department’s standard-issue Smith & Wesson M&P 40.

The bizarre nature of the incident and his incredible gunshot come up nearly every day. According to a ballistics investigation, the .40-caliber bullet fired from Johnson’s gun traveled 314 feet in less than a second. The bullet nicked the driver’s door frame of McQuilliams’ vehicle and continued tumbling sideways 5 more feet before it hit McQuilliams.

Yes. That was a 100 yard, one-handed shot with an M&P .40.

That was the only shot police fired that night.

It was also the decisive one.

I can’t find it online, and my memory is a little sketchy, but I’m reminded of an “Ayoob Files” from some years ago. Briefly: bad guy armed with a rifle is holding off cops (and kills one dead). Cops are only armed with handguns, and try to take the guy out, but he has them pinned down 80 to 100 yards away. My recollection of Ayoob’s account is that at least one of the responding officers tried making shots at that range with his duty gun; when the bad guy was finally taken down (as I recall, by someone who arrived on scene with a shotgun and hit him with a rifled slug), they found a fairly tight group of bullet holes…just above where the bad guy’s head would have been.

One of Ayoob’s points, which I thought was well taken was: maybe every once in a while you should try taking long range shots with your duty weapon, just so you have some idea of what it can do and where you might need to hold. Then again…

Johnson, 40, loves his unit and his job, a perfect fit for someone who had grown up riding horses on a ranch and practiced shooting with a .22-caliber rifle from his back porch.

…if you grew up shooting off the back porch, maybe you don’t need that advice.

(Also, Massad Ayoob, if you happen to be reading this: this incident, and Sgt. Johnson in particular, might make for a good “Ayoob Files” installment. Just saying.)

Well. Well well well. Well.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

More from the HouChron on the “person of interest” in the Judge Kocurek case.

Highlights:

  • He was scheduled to go before the judge in December: prosecutors were looking to revoke his probation from a previous fraud case.
  • He’s been charged with a murder from May of this year.
  • He “has a long arrest record in Harris County but few convictions, court records show.”

Quick random notes: November 10, 2015.

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Mike Thomas out as athletic director at Illinois.

The Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow trial stated yesterday.

On one occasion, Hasib said, Chow told an agent, who clandestinely tape-recorded his comments, “I don’t commit crimes myself, but I know a lot of people who do.”

More from the LAT.

My mother was complaining last night that the authorities were being awfully close-mouthed about the shooting of Judge Kocurek. I figured they were playing things close to the vest because the investigation was ongoing.

Well. Well well well. Well.

Austin police said Monday night that it is aware of the arrest in Houston of a person of interest in Kocurek’s shooting and that the person is being detained on unrelated charges, but declined to comment any further citing the ongoing investigation.

Note from the police blotter…

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

I’m sorry I didn’t make note of this yesterday, but I was running from sunrise to midnight: first, hanging out with family at WurstFest, then diiner with friends and hanging out watching creepy stuff.

(Seriouly. I like to think I have a high tolerance for creepy, but Island of Lost Souls got under my skin. I may have more to say about this later, but I do commend the Criterion blu-ray to your attention.)

Anyway, this is kind of a local story, but it may have broader implications: somebody tried to kill a local judge late Friday night.

The judge in question, Julie Kocurek, is a district judge and is heavily involved with criminal prosecutions:

… it was Kocurek who, in July, unsealed the 75-page search warrant affidavit that for the first time linked former Austin police officer VonTrey Clark to the conspiracy to kill Samantha Dean, an Austin-area crime victims counselor shot to death in February.

I’m not saying it was Clark or his buddies that were behind this, but the speculation is that this was some form of retaliation, and not just a robbery gone bad. She was with other people, and:

When she returned home, a bag of trash or a garbage can had been placed in front of the security gate into her driveway, requiring the driver of her car to stop the vehicle to remove it.

Judge Kocurek is currently in stable condition, according to reports. We hope she makes a full recovery, and we’ll be watching this story with great interest.

Well, it’s official now…

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

…VonTrey Clark has officially been indicted on capital murder charges.

Ripped from the headlines!

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Police affidavit: Shia LaBeouf ‘was a danger to himself and others’

I have no joke here, I just wanted to say this: