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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 02:57 AM
Number of posts: 88,985

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Suspended Broward sheriff holds fundraiser at Pembroke Pines sports bar

The suspended Broward County sheriff, Scott Israel (D), attended a private fundraiser to raise money for legal fees and to build support for a potential return to public office.

The ousted lawman, seen walking into a Pembroke Pines sports bar Friday evening in a suit and tie, confirmed he was meeting with supporters and courting donations to help cover the costs associated with appealing his suspension before the Florida Senate and potentially in court.

“[It’s] a function to get the community together. We’re going to be running again and hopefully win our office back,” he said outside Bru’s Room Sports Bar before ducking into a reserved dining room secluded from the restaurant’s general seating. “We’ve done nothing that would ever warrant suspension, and people just want to get together and show support.”

Israel’s attorney has said he would run again in 2020. He was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016.

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article226657809.html

Teach hotel workers to spot human trafficking, Florida senator proposes

A year ago, state Sen. Lauren Book wanted to allow human-trafficking survivors to sue hotels that turned a blind eye to abuse. But after that idea did not pass, the Plantation Democrat is back with a different proposal: training hotel employees to spot trafficking.

“Florida is one of the hotbeds for human trafficking in the United States. We can and must do more,” said Book, chairwoman of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

Book’s bill (SB 540), filed for the legislative session that starts March 5, would require public-lodging managers and employees to be trained on how to recognize and report human trafficking to law enforcement. Operators would face fines of up to $1,000 per day if training requirements are not met.

The proposal would also mandate creation of two other things: a registry for pimps and johns and an organization that would collect money and provide resources to help trafficking survivors.

Read more: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-nsf-human-trafficking-20190220-story.html

Document dump reveals former UCF President Dale Whittaker was aware of misspent funds

A trove of documents released by the Florida House of Public Integrity and Ethics Committee earlier today reveal former UCF President Dale Whittaker was more aware of the university's misspending than previously known.

University officials accepted Whittaker's resignation on Thursday.

In January, once it was discovered that $38 million in operating funds were used to cover construction costs to build Trevor Colbourn Hall, Whittaker announced he would fire four high-ranking university employees. Whittaker has maintained that he had no knowledge of the improper spending.

The documents, however, reveal testimony by current and former UCF employees who say they didn't understand the implications of using $38 million in operating funds to cover construction costs to build Trevor Colbourn Hall. Many of them said they've been thrown under the bus, so to speak, to help protect Whittaker, who was appointed UCF president last year, following longtime UCF President John Hitt's retirement.

Included in the documents is testimony from Lynn Gonzalez, associate vice president for budget and personnel administration. Gonzalez said during the misspending period she participated in weekly "budget chats" with Whittaker, CFO Bill Merck, Tracy Clark and Christy Tant, where they discussed projects that would receive operating funds. She said it was Whittaker, then the university provost, who gave the final OK. Gonzalez also said Whittaker signed off on all expenditures more than $1 million.

Read more: https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2019/02/22/document-dump-reveals-former-ucf-president-dale-whittaker-was-aware-of-misspent-funds

Gov. DeSantis and Trump claim they'll import cheaper Canadian prescription drugs to Florida

Nobody likes the high cost of prescription drugs.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he wants to do something about it. But it could be a big reach for the rookie Republican governor. He is trying to accomplish something that no other state has ever done.

In an announcement at the sprawling retirement community of The Villages in Central Florida, DeSantis outlined a plan to import lower-costing drugs from Canada, where the government negotiates the drug prices with the manufacturers. The idea is to provide cheaper drugs for government programs like Medicaid and for inmates, and then later to allow Canadian prescription drugs to be sold wholesale to pharmacies and insurance providers.

The proposal would require approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and no state has yet won that approval. U.S. drug manufacturers are opposed to it.

Read more: https://www.floridaphoenix.com/blog/gov-desantis-and-trump-claim-theyll-import-cheaper-canadian-prescription-drugs-to-florida/

California man who spent 39 years in prison gets $21 million for wrongful conviction

(Reuters) - A California man who was wrongfully convicted for killing an ex-girlfriend and her son four decades ago has reached a $21 million settlement with the city of Simi Valley, officials said.

Craig Coley, 71, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1978 murder of his former partner, Rhonda Wicht, and her 4-year-old son, Donald, at their apartment.

He had always maintained his innocence, and was pardoned in 2017 by California’s then-governor, Jerry Brown, based on exculpatory DNA evidence found by investigators.

“While no amount of money can make up for what happened to Mr. Coley, settling this case is the right thing to do for Mr. Coley and our community,” Simi Valley City Manager Eric Levitt said on Saturday in a statement.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-pardon/california-man-who-spent-39-years-in-prison-gets-21-million-for-wrongful-conviction-idUSKCN1QD0RQ

BETO... For U.S. Senate?

Chris Cillizza delivers the most superficial and stupidest way to watch the 2020 nomination race on CNN every month. Yesterday, he moved Bernie, Klobuchar and Castro up in his "power ranking," while Sherrod Brown and Kirsten Gillibrand moved down. "Sliding down to #3," mouthed the silly Cillizza-- with silly cartoon music behind him (apparently someone at CNN knows what a doofus he is)-- "is former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke. Now, O'Rourke is the buzz and momentum candidate, even hosting his own competing rally in El Paso..."

Chuck Schumer loves recruiting candidates. Unfortunately he usually picks the worst candidates. Last cycle, his biggest efforts went into 3 extremely conservative Democrats-- Phil Bredesen (TN), Jacky Rosen (NV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ). Bredesen lost with just 44.2% of the vote but the other two flipped red seats. Unfortunately they have both already earned F grades for their Senate voting records, entirely predictable, since they both had F grades for their House voting records. In fact, Sinema had the single worst voting record among Dems in the House and after just a month of votes is already voting more conservatively than Doug Jones, Joe Manchin and... Susan Collins! That said, even Schumer can accidentally pick a decent candidate once in a blue moon. And both Texas and the moon seem to be headed in a blue-tinged direction. Look at that brand new polling of Texas voters from PPP:

Beto may be too middle of the road to make the best 2020 presidential nominee, but he'd make a very good Democratic Senate nominee against McTurtle sidekick John Cornyn. There are Texas progressive activists who don't want to hear that, who already have their hearts set on Sema Hernandez, organizer of the Poor People's Campaign and the 2018 DSA primary candidate who drew 245,847 votes (23.7%) in 2018's three-way Senate primary that Beto won with 640,769 votes (61.8%), before he was half as well-known as he is now.

Jim Henson and Joshua Blank of the Texas Politics Project at UT put together all the arguments for Beto to take on the 69 year old Cornyn in less than 2 weeks after he came within 2.6% of beating Cruz. "O’Rourke," they wrote, "is a known commodity to the Texas electorate, and more importantly, won’t be easy to define, or redefine, compared to his less known, and less well-financed, potential competitors... The rampant speculation about a Beto for President campaign in 2020 is a fantasy borne of various combinations of Texas-centric thinking, viral Betomania, and media group think. The idea that O’Rourke is already a top-tier candidate in a very crowded and more experienced Democratic field has been, since its pre-election inception, at best far-fetched and at worst a transparent attempt at generating web traffic. Bluntly put, losing hasn’t made it any more plausible... But O’Rourke's return to the statewide arena for the 2020 campaign could hasten the arrival of something genuinely new to Texas politics: A more competitive political system in which neither party monopolizes politics and policy. A competitive Texas would also have serious implications for the presidential race, more signficant than were he to join the Democratic presidential nomination fight. The stakes are high." They polled for favorability/unfavorability between Beto and Cornyn and the results are encouraging:

• Beto- 43% favorable-- 44% unfavorable
• Cornyn- 39% favorable-- 34% unfavorable

Read more: http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2019/02/beto-for-us-senate.html

Oakland, California teachers press for expansion of strike as union seeks to contain struggle

The strike of 3,000 teachers in Oakland, California completed its second day Friday, as educators across the city maintained their picket lines and assembled for a rally attended by more than 1,000 people.

The struggle of Oakland teachers is part of a growing wave of strikes throughout the country and internationally, including strikes this year of teachers in Los Angeles, Denver, and West Virginia in the US, and strikes in Mexico, Argentina, Morocco, Tunisia, Denmark, France, and the UK.

There is enormous support for the striking teachers from workers in Oakland and across the Bay Area, with community members joining pickets, passersby continuously honking in support of teachers, and an atmosphere of solidarity pervading the city.

Despite this broad popular support, the Oakland Education Association (OEA) is working to isolate teachers and reach an agreement with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) as quickly as possible.

Read more: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/02/23/oakl-f23.html

Woman pleads guilty to Good Sam embezzlement, ordered to pay back $345K

DENTON -- Lisa McMaster, who was indicted on a charge of felony theft for allegedly taking more than $300,000 from Good Samaritan Denton Village, pleaded guilty to her charge Friday in court.

But she will avoid any prison time, which could have ranged from five to 99 years, for the first-degree felony. Instead, her defense was successful in asking that she be given probation and be allowed to pay back the money, which totaled about $345,000.

“I think Good Samaritan would be better off getting their money back,” McMaster said while answering questions from a prosecutor.

She was sentenced to 10 years of probation and will have to pay back $345,303.51 to the nonprofit retirement community. Denton County District Court Judge Steve Burgess approved the agreement.

Read more: https://www.dentonrc.com/news/woman-pleads-guilty-to-good-sam-embezzlement-ordered-to-pay/article_19e7f486-ac7c-51b7-a3b6-954c21a59895.html

What makes this article interesting is this paragraph:

McMaster also stole about $28,000 from another employer around 2010, according to testimony on Friday. McMaster, answering questions, said she did not pay back the full amount stolen in that case, handled in Collin County.

Texas PUC lets electric companies jack up bills with unregulated fees, report says

The report from an Austin-based group called Texas ROSE — Texas Ratepayers’ Organization to Save Energy — states, “The PUC has not done an adequate job of educating the public or the Texas Legislature” about fees charged by electricity companies.

Texas ROSE’s study found 28 different fees that are used by some electricity companies.

Executive Director Pamela Ferris says, “Since Texas consumers are facing increased electric bills due to rising costs and wildly fluctuating temperatures, it is more critical than ever that they have clear and accurate information regarding their residential electricity plans.”

Her report says the UC’s failures do not stop with its poorly managed shopping website, PowerToChoose.org.

The complete article is at https://www.dentonrc.com/news/the_watchdog/texas-puc-lets-electric-companies-jack-up-bills-with-unregulated/article_05ec1782-2609-5297-bf58-0f2df9dbfac6.html .

Jury votes to remove Brown from Justice of the Peace office

BELTON — After 90 minutes of deliberation, a Bell County jury decided Wednesday that Justice of the Peace Claudia Brown should be removed from her elected position.

The Killeen Democrat — who has a mild neurological condition, a doctor testified — will immediately be removed from office once visiting state District Judge Stephen Ables signs the paperwork, probably within in a day or two. Until then, her pay is suspended and she will perform no official duties, her defense attorney David Fernandez confirmed.

Brown — the first black woman elected to a JP office in Bell County —will use that time to box up items in her office, Fernandez said.


Some issues centered on the $4 billion bond she set for Killeen murder suspect Antonio Willis — an incident that attracted international media attention after a report by the Temple Daily Telegram two years ago. Other issues focused on the very low bonds and no bond conditions set for reportedly violent offenders.

Read more: http://kdhnews.com/news/local/jury-votes-to-remove-brown-from-justice-of-the-peace/article_84e4adc0-3003-11e9-be83-e3c1920e2050.html
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