Archive for August 19th, 2014

Dude and Dave

Yesterday afternoon I watched Guv Dude’s high powered legal defense team introduce themselves and they didn’t waste any time going after the Travis County DA. They also threw out the names of five nationally known Dems that think the indictments are weak. The five included President Obama advisor David Axelrod and President Bill Clinton defender Lanny Davis. The Chron hard copy lead headline reads: Perry defense comes out blazing. Good description. Add the NY Times E-Board to the list of those that think the indictments are a stretch. Here is from the Times:

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America, having done great harm to immigrants, abortion clinics and people without health insurance during his 14 years in office. But bad political judgment is not necessarily a felony, and the indictment handed up against him on Friday — given the facts so far — appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.

For more than a year, Mr. Perry has been seeking the resignation of the Travis County district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg. He had good reason to do so: Ms. Lehmberg was arrested in April 2013 for driving with a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit, and she verbally abused the officers who found her with an open bottle of vodka. She ranted and raved at the local jail, threatening sheriff’s deputies, and she had to be restrained in a chair with a hood over her head. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail. In addition to endangering people’s lives, she instantly lost her credibility as a prosecutor of drunken-driving cases.

But Ms. Lehmberg is also an elected Democrat, and as the prosecutor in Austin, the state capital, she ran the Public Integrity Unit, which investigates corruption charges against state lawmakers, often including prominent Republicans. The office, in fact, has been investigating whether several medical research grants were improperly given to people with connections to Mr. Perry. Had she stepped down, the governor might have named a Republican to replace her, so she refused.

After the arrest, Mr. Perry told Ms. Lehmberg that if she didn’t resign, he would cut the financing for the Public Integrity Unit. In June, he did just that, using his line-item veto to zero out the $7.5 million for the unit. That was a bad idea. Had county officials not stepped in with some money, the veto could have shut down an important investigative body and its cases. Mr. Perry should have left the matter to the courts, where both a criminal and a civil attempt to have her removed failed, or to the voters.

But his ill-advised veto still doesn’t seem to rise to the level of a criminal act. After a complaint was filed by a liberal group, a judge appointed a special prosecutor, Michael McCrum, a San Antonio lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to take the case. A Travis County grand jury indicted Mr. Perry on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant. The indictment says he exceeded his veto power by combining it with a threat to Ms. Lehmberg if she didn’t quit.

Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want, but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far. Perhaps Mr. McCrum will have some solid proof to show once the case heads to trial. But, for now, Texas voters should be more furious at Mr. Perry for refusing to expand Medicaid, and for all the favors he has done for big donors, than for a budget veto.

Chris Carter won last week’s AL Player of the Week. Where does Carter rank on the season dinger list?

I watched CNN for a while last night and I was pretty sad about what I was watching. It is difficult to be a judge of stuff from just watching from your recliner. You have to be there. So I am going to defer to CNN’s Jake Tapper when he said last night that he thought the law enforcement presence was a bit over the top.

HCC Trustee Dave Wilson won another round over Vince Ryan and crew but apparently that is not going to stop Vince from appealing. Wilson also got an arse chewing of sorts from the judge. Folks know my feelings about this and quite a few number of Dems agree with me. Here is from the Chron:

A judge on Monday reluctantly upheld a jury ruling that Dave Wilson lived where he claimed when he ran for the Houston Community College seat he now holds.

It was the latest development in an ongoing saga over Wilson’s residence that may continue in appellate court.

The Harris County Attorney’s office, which has challenged Wilson’s residency for months, had asked state District Judge Mike Engelhart to throw out last month’s jury ruling, arguing that Wilson was breaking the law by claiming two residences.

‘Create a legacy’

The county claims Wilson does not live in an apartment in a warehouse on W. 34th Street, as he claimed when running for office, and rather lives in a home on Lake Lane, outside of the district and the city limits, which is deeded in his wife’s name.

Engelhart said Monday that he “unfortunately” had to deny the motion, but he admonished Wilson in his ruling.

“In presiding over this trial and listening to you testify, observing evidence and photographs, I found you not to be credible at all,” Engelhart said. “I will always believe you were an opportunist looking to take advantage of a situation and somehow create a legacy for yourself.”

Engelhart said he was “especially dismayed” by evidence in last month’s trial showing Wilson registered to vote in south Houston with the intention of running for an open state senate seat, but never moved there or made “any effort to even look for an apartment or other residence.” Wilson then switched his registration back to the warehouse in which he has an apartment in HCC District II.

“That speaks loudly about your integrity,” Engelhart said.

‘A better answer’

Wilson responded after the hearing by pointing out that Engelhart is a Democrat who disagrees with his politics. He called the case a political vendetta and said Engelhart took the “opportunity to take a cheap shot at me.”

Wilson’s attorney, Keith Gross, said Engelhart had to rule in his client’s favor, as much as it pained him.

“If you saw the judge’s demeanor on the bench, he hated to do what he had to do, which was follow the law,” Gross said.

Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray said the county will review the case to decide what to do. Last Month, Ray indicated the county would appeal if Engelhart ruled for Wilson.

“No matter which way he rules, it’s going to go to the appellate court for a better answer,” Ray said at the time.

Oh, well!

Chris Carter of course is fourth in the MLB with 29 dingers and Nelson Cruz of B’More is numero 1 with 32.

I was kind of hard on Chris Carter earlier in the season, but he has turned it on since July 1. Let’s see how they do at Yankee Stadium the next three games.

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