"Kimbrough's not carrying a badge or ordering law enforcement to do this or that," said Perry spokesman Ted Royer. "He is the point man that is making sure that nothing falls through the cracks." ...As a result of confirming the Special Master's impotence (legal impotence, that is - I'm not saying riding a Harley at Kimbrough's age and station is overcompensating or anything!), the Corrections Committee yesterday approved the creation of a "conservator" for TYC over the objections of the chair, according to Quorum Report, which is a rare move indeed.
Kimbrough told lawmakers Monday he is "trying to be a coordinator, facilitator, an idea guy," and his investigation is empowered by Perry's appointment.
"I ain't got no statutory anything," Kimbrough said. ...
"We now know Mr. Kimbrough doesn't have any authority to do anything," said Rep. Pat Haggerty, R-El Paso.
In this case, though, I hope Chairman Madden and the Governor both reconsider and go along with the conservator plan.
Let's review. Governor Perry named this "special master" who answers only to him and has no formal power, instead of the statutorily defined "conservator" who could actually run the agency with the authority of law. Perry "suggested" that the TYC board name Department of Corrections' second in command, Ed Owens, as interim TYC executive director, which it did, vesting him with dictatorial power before the board resigned en masse. For his part, Owens was accused in a lawsuit that was settled last year at TDCJ of failing to act upon serious sex abuse allegations at that agency.
So now we're in the following situation: TYC does not have a board as required under law and Governor Perry has not moved to appoint new boardmembers as he's empowered to, nor has he created a conservatorship, his other legal option. All power is vested in an executive director for whom the state last year paid a civil settlement in response to charges he helped cover up a sex scandal at Texas' adult corrections agency. No board nor anyone else is there with legal authority to provide him oversight. Still, Perry is resisting the legal "conservatorship" and insisting on this "Special Master" mechanism that has no basis in history or law.
This issue is way too big, the media frenzy too intense, and the stakes too high for the Governor to just make up the rules as he goes along.
Before he decided to flout both law and custom with this Special Master foolishness, Governor Perry could legitimately say he had little more responsibility than many other government officials for the Pyote sex scandal - less than most, since the Texas Governor is a relatively weak office. But ignoring the law to use Jay Kimbrough as some sort of free-ranging, maverick reformer with a bully pulpit but no power makes this the Governor's scandal and the Governor's problem.
Somebody gave the Govenor bad advice.
If Kimbrough, as seems inevitable, runs up against the limits of his authority to reform the agency, it will be Governor Perry's fault for not using the statute for conservatorship. Indeed, at this point with no TYC board, there's no one who could even legally fire Ed Owens if he does a bad job!
I don't know what the Governor and his advisors were thinking. Apparently, something along the lines of, "Hey, here's an albatross! Let's hang it around our necks!"