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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, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 78,379

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

Did Political Donations Change the Outcome of a $1 Million Case?

Political donations are behind an appellate court ruling that overturned a jury's verdict requiring an apartment company to pay $1 million to two women raped by a man who entered their Garland home through a window with a broken latch, the women's attorney claims in a motion filed this week.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer John McCraw writes that the timing and the amount of the donations, and the fact they went to two justices on the three-judge panel that overturned the case, are too unlikely to be mere coincidence. He's asking Justices Craig Stoddart and Molly Francis on the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals to recuse themselves from the case, which is still under appeal.

The case was already freighted with politics because the two women were in a relationship when the violent assaults happened in 2014. One of the victims told the Morning News after the verdict was overturned that she suspected conservative bias against lesbians played a role in the appeals court decision.

In his motion calling for Stoddart and Francis to remove themselves from the case, McCraw went further, claiming that two political action committees made coordinated contributions to the two justices before the case was assigned to the panel that heard the appeal. The plaintiffs are seeking a hearing before the entire 13-member appeals court, minus Stoddart and Francis.

Read more: https://www.dallasobserver.com/news/did-political-donations-change-the-outcome-of-a-case-11187593

Ken Paxton Backs Expulsion of Student Who Refused to Stand for the Pledge of Allegiance

In the fall of 2017, seventeen-year-old India Landry was expelled from Windfern High School in Cy-Fair, outside of Houston. She’d been in trouble at the school that year, but not for her grades or disciplinary issues. Rather, she was in the principal’s office after being kicked out of English class five times already that semester for her refusal to stand during the pledge of allegiance. When the pledge came over the intercom that morning, she again stayed seated, while the principal and a school secretary stood. The principal asked her to stand, she told KHOU. “I said I wouldn’t, and she said, ‘Well, you’re kicked out of here,'” Landry told reporters.

Landry had refused to stand for the anthem for a year and a half, according to a New York Times story from last fall, before she was expelled. After the case received media attention, principal Martha Strother reversed course and allowed Landry to resume classes. The lawsuit Landry filed in response to her initial expulsion, though, remains in court, challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law that requires students to have written parental permission in order to decline to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

Texas law requires students to recite the pledge (under the statute, standing isn’t required) with the caveat that “On written request from a student’s parent or guardian, a school district or open-enrollment charter school shall excuse the student from reciting a pledge of allegiance.” This week, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he’d be using his office to attempt to ensure that section of the Texas Education Code remains in place amid the legal challenge.

The suit—and Paxton’s response—raise a few questions. Paxton’s motion to intervene argues that the state has an interest in ensuring that the daily recitation of the pledge of allegiance is included as part of the educational experience of every Texan, and states that the parental opt-out offers an appropriate remedy to families concerned that the forced recitation of the pledge goes against their values. Landry’s suit argues that students have free speech rights irrespective of their parents, and that those rights are violated by the statute in question.

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/news/ken-paxton-high-school-pledge-allegiance/

Lupe Valdez Comes on Strong in Debate Against Greg Abbott. But is it Enough?

Even before the first question was asked in the Friday night governor’s debate at the LBJ Library in Austin, the outcome of the race between incumbent Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Lupe Valdez was a foregone conclusion. To change that, Valdez needed to force a fatal mistake by Abbott. That didn’t happen.

Although a different Valdez showed up for the Friday debate than we’ve been seeing all year, she didn’t deliver the rhetorical knock-out punch that she needed. She started her campaign earlier this year as a bumbler who knew little about state government. In the debate, Valdez showed she has learned a lot and could put a human face on issues, while Abbott talked about them in a way that would make a bureaucrat proud. It was passion versus policy.

Their sharpest division occurred when they discussed the law known as the Texas Dream Act. The law allows undocumented youth to pay in-state tuition for college if they have graduated from a state high school. The bill was signed into law by former Governor Rick Perry.

Abbott said he would favor repealing the law because it contains a flaw—it requires a student to work on a path to citizenship. That is impossible, Abbott said, because federal law gives no undocumented immigrant in America a path to citizenship. “The legislators who passed that Dream Act, they had a noble cause behind what they were seeking to do, but there was a flaw in the structure of what they passed,” Abbott said. “The law that passed who said these students who received in-state tuition had to demonstrate that they were on a pathway to achieving legal status; however, there is no apparatus in the law to make sure that is, in fact, being done. Hence, the law as structured is flawed and has to be fixed.”

Read more: https://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/lupe-valdez-comes-strong-debate-greg-abbott-enough/

Democratic Socialists harassed, called 'Commies' by group of men at Silver Dollar

A group of Democratic Socialists who were holding a public meeting at a Louisville restaurant Thursday night were harassed and attacked by a group of anti-leftists, according to the owner of The Silver Dollar.

The Louisville chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America was hosting an event at the popular Frankfort Avenue restaurant from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, according to a public Facebook event.

Shortly after the Democratic Socialists had gathered, at least four men began taunting and swearing at them from the sidewalk near the whiskey bar and restaurant's patio and telling them to leave, according to a Courier Journal review of a video from the encounter in the Clifton neighborhood east of downtown.

The police arrived around 8:10 p.m. There were no arrests or severe injuries.

Read more: https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2018/09/28/silver-dollar-white-nationalists-attacked-democratic-socialists-louisville-bar/1451993002/

Group demands Ohio County Schools stop public prayer

A Wisconsin-based organization that works to "protect the constitutional separation between church and state" sent a letter to Ohio County Public Schools this week, demanding they not allow public prayers at school-sponsored events.

The letter was sent Sept. 26 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The letter, which was addressed to school superintendent Scott Lewis, was prompted by an Aug. 24 incident, where a student recited a prayer at a football game using the public address system.

Colin McNamara, an attorney with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, wrote that the Supreme Court struck down invocations over loudspeakers at public school athletic events, regardless of whether the prayer was led by a student. McNamara wrote the Supreme Court found a prayer at a school-sponsored event "would lead an objective observer to perceive it as a state endorsement of religion."

The complaint came from a family in the school district the letter said.

Read more: http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/news/local/group-demands-ohio-county-schools-stop-public-prayer/article_d4a7be0e-985f-5688-b85f-60b171ef7724.html

Will this lawsuit cause Kentucky's state pension fund to collapse?

Kentucky’s beleaguered $2 billion pension fund for state workers, which has only 13% of the assets it needs for future obligations, faces a potential ticking time bomb in the courtroom.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has been asked to decide if Centerstone — the regional mental-health nonprofit in Louisville formerly known as Seven Counties Services — should get to use a bankruptcy reorganization to walk away from its estimated $130 million in liabilities to the Kentucky Retirement Systems, which manages the pension fund. Judges in other courts so far have approved it.

While $130 million is a hefty sum, an even bigger concern for state officials is whether the dozen regional mental-health nonprofits remaining in KRS would use bankruptcy as their own escape route if the Supreme Court permits it for Centerstone. Several have been fighting with KRS in court for years, attempting different strategies to move employees out of the state retirement system and cut their pension contribution costs. But no one else has tried bankruptcy — yet.

Those regional mental-health nonprofits represent about $1 billion of the total $15 billion in unfunded liabilities faced by the state pension fund, known as the Kentucky Employees Retirement System, or KERS. They were among the “quasi-governmental” entities allowed to join KRS over the years, despite some controversy because they are independently run, not part of state government.

Read more: https://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article219101045.html

Community supports Radcliff Applebee's server after racist note

Jasmine Brewer was going about her work as a server last week at Applebee’s in Radcliff when a note scribbled on a napkin stopped her.

“We don’t tip black people,” read the note apparently left by a customer.

Brewer sent a photo of the note to her mother, who posted it on Facebook. Since then, Brewer has received an outpouring of support.

“Everybody is on my side and wants to put an end to racism,” she said.

Read more: http://www.kentuckynewera.com/news/ap/article_31894d9a-c391-11e8-a1ab-a3b8fa231d51.html

I suspect that those customers would argue that they were being racially sensitive by referring to Brewer as "black people" instead of the other word that they use in private.

Former Western Kentucky University professor admits to fraud

A former Western Kentucky University professor could face prison time after pleading guilty to wire fraud.

Matthew Dettman, 52, pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Bowling Green.

Dettman was charged with the offense this month by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.

Authorities accused Dettman of enriching himself by diverting payments from local construction companies for soil and concrete testing to accounts that he controlled.


“Between 2006 and October 2017, Dettman devised a scheme to defraud WKU by diverting test payments for his own personal use, resulting in a loss of $236,000.”

Read more: http://www.kentuckynewera.com/news/ap/article_757ae492-c390-11e8-9b27-3b341f7d1b43.html

Audit: Kentucky was warned about broadband contract

In October 2015, state officials in Kentucky signed a contract to install 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable to bring high-speed internet access to all 120 counties. Today, the project is at least four years behind schedule because of persistent delays that have cost taxpayers a projected $96 million.

But a new report from Republican Auditor Mike Harmon says state officials ignored at least three written warnings about the contract. Auditors said no one interviewed could explain “why the decision to proceed was made.” Harmon said he has sent the report to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission “for further review and possible action.”

“It was as if sirens were going off all around and no one was paying attention,” Harmon said.

The audit is the latest takedown of Kentucky Wired, an ambitious project hailed as an economic savior for an eastern Kentucky economy that had been devastated by the loss of coal jobs. Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced the deal. Beshear left office in December 2015. Matt Bevin, his Republican successor, has committed to finishing the project.

Read more: https://www.state-journal.com/2018/09/27/audit-kentucky-was-warned-about-broadband-contract/

Kentucky bourbon inventory at highest level since 1972

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky’s bourbon distilleries ratcheted up production again last year, boosting overall inventory to 7.5 million barrels of aging whiskey — the highest volume since 1972, an industry group said Thursday.

Rounds of distillery expansions and start-ups have put the sector on a trajectory toward higher production, but an industry leader warned trade disputes in key overseas markets remain a threat to the good times for bourbon producers.

If tariffs curtail bourbon consumption in those markets abroad, the industry could be left with some sobering consequences — a flood of whiskey to sell by trying to boost sales in the U.S. and in countries unaffected by trade disputes. An abundance of whiskey could affect pricing, hurting not only large distillers but especially the fledgling craft distilling market.

Last year, Kentucky’s overall spirits production — mostly bourbon — surpassed 1.7 million barrels for just the second time since 1968, an increase of 129,000 barrels from 2016, the Kentucky Distillers’ Association said.

Read more: https://www.state-journal.com/2018/09/27/kentucky-bourbon-inventory-at-highest-level-since-1972/
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