Gov. Rick Perry has arranged to have one of his budget aides, Alfonso Royal, named chief of staff of the Texas Youth Commission. It’s an odd appointment given that, despite his position on the governor’s staff at the time, Royal had little or nothing to do with uncovering last year’s scandal at the commission.
Royal was one of several gubernatorial aides who oversee various state agencies, acting as the governor’s eyes and ears. One of his agencies was the Texas Youth Commission.
In late October 2006, Royal was given graphic reports of sexual abuse by two administrators at a commission facility, the West Texas State School in Pyote. The two men had left the school, but they remained free, and the Texas Ranger who had investigated the abuse had been trying for a year to get the local prosecutor to act. A legislative aide who learned of the Ranger’s frustration told Royal of the problem on Oct. 30.
Records indicate that over the next month, Royal spent 12Â½ minutes on seven phone calls to the local prosecutor and the Ranger about the case. Just this week, a spokesman for the governor said Royal did all that could be expected, especially given that the two administrators already had left.
But the governor’s eyes and ears apparently were blind and deaf to the depth of rot at the commission hinted at by the Ranger’s reports. Or maybe Royal did not want to disturb the governor in the last days of his political campaign before that year’s election, on Nov. 7, against Chris Bell, a Democrat, and two high-profile independents, Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman. (Perry won, with 39 percent of the vote.)
At any rate, when the reports of sexual abuse of inmates and other problems at the commission finally broke statewide in February 2007, Perry said the first he knew of the Ranger’s frustration in getting the cases prosecuted was when he read a story in The Dallas Morning News.
News of just how bad things were at the Youth Commission - abuse of inmates, the hiring of guards and supervisors with questionable records in their own past, internal efforts to hush up reports of abuse - exploded, thanks to the media and the fact that the Legislature happened to be in session. ...
But Royal had seen nothing, heard nothing, reported nothing to the governor.
The governor, however, is pleased with Royal’s performance, said a spokesman. And it’s not just talk: Royal’s salary has jumped from the $70,000 a year he was paid on the governor’s staff to $109,950 a year at the Youth Commission.
It doesn’t make sense to us.
It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, either.