Sunday, March 04, 2007

Grits commenters speak their piece

I really appreciate everybody who comments on Grits. You help make this a better blog.

I've had such interesting comments recently I thought I'd share a few greatest hits on a variety of different, current topics, both to highlight interesting ideas and opinions and to encourage others to leave their two cents. Opinions are those of the writer. Here are some highlights:

Bexar feud shows need for union
First, from a still quite active comment string about employment disputes at the Bexar County Probation Department, comes this missive from a probation officer in Dallas:
What's happening in Bexar Co is symbolic of the evolution of adult probation in Texas. Dallas Co. PO's organized a union four years ago to address many of the same issues that face PO's in San Antonio, Houston, Ft. Worth, and everywhere else in Texas. To the casual observer, the unionization of probation officers seems like a natural response to low wages, high workloads, and overall poor treatment by management, but the problem really goes beyond the traditional struggle over wages and working conditions. A Probation Department in Texas is this "thing" created by the state legislature that is neither a municipal, county or state department. The law enables the State District Judges to hire a probation director, who then serves at the pleasure of the judges. The problem is that the judges generally prefer to have nothing to do with the probation department after a director is hired.

Probation directors in Texas can easily convince themselves that they are gods because they can rule with absolute authority, can target any employee who voices a critical opinion, and can operate without accountability. When the director of Dallas County Probation, became such a legend in his own mind that he could do whatever, whenever he wanted, the Probation Officer's union took him out. The state district judges tried replacing the deposed megalomaniac director with his long term assistant director, who represented no change in the culture of the organization. The PO's union took him out as well. Finally, before last November's election, Dallas Co. PO's took to the streets and campaigned against the State District Judges who displayed an almost total lack of regard for probation employees. All of the judges targeted by the probation employees'union lost their re-election bids. I predict the same will happen in San Antonio and throughout Texas if the judges fail to take an active role in managing probation, which means holding directors accountable.
The Ed and Rissie Show
Not everyone was happy with Governor Perry's new appointment to run the Texas Youth Commission - Ed Owens, whose wife Rissie is the chair of the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. He was previously the #2 man at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. One commenter wondered:
How could someone like Rissie retain her job after screwing up the BPP so badly? Would it not have been better to do the "out with the old, in with the new", and give someone who cares about people and their lives and the lives of their loved ones a chance to try to straighten out the BPP. There are some very good people who sit on the BPP, but with her in charge, they feel threatened and letting her make the calls of who gets to go home and who does not, does not seem fair, well it just is not fair.

Simply moving husband Ed to another top position shows such favortism it smells.

If Texas truly wants to clean up it's act, then remove those who have messed up the sytem by either not caring or not knowing what they are doing. I think Rissie and Ed fall into both of those categories, not knowing and certainly not caring.

If you are going to do something Mr. Perry, do the right thing for a change!!
Remove obstacles to lengthy sentences for child molesters
One of our regulars, 800 Lbs Gorilla, had this common sense revelation about long sentences for sex offenders:
IF we eliminated most - if not all - of the "personal choices" or "victimless" penalties like those banning prostitution, illicit drugs, and gambling we would have more leeway to impose heavier penalties on chronic sexual abusers who impose their sexual appetites on unwilling partners.
Oh Canada
Noticing two of six clips I linked to on Friday involved Canadian prisoners fighting for their rights, one in an immigrant detention center in Taylor and another in the Dallas County Jail, an anonymous commenter responded:
Oh Canada!

It's amazing it takes foreigners to stand up to Texas prison abuses while too many of us so-called tough Texans remain silent.

I guess a Canadian sees our inhuman incarceration machine as the international human rights disgrace it really is, while to us it just seems normal.
This Law Stinks
Finally, another commenter describes his frustration with the so-called driver responsibility program, a statute so draconian for an administrative offense even prosecutors want it repealed.
I'm so glad that the state decided to make a law that charges people for something they have already paid for. Knowing that they are making money off of nothing is a true inspiration to every capitalist out there.

This law stinks. I had a DWI and I was punished in the courts, making me cough up $2000 after all was said and done. I still have my arguments about it, but in truth I needed a kick in the pants.

But now I have DPS saying that they want some money too. $1000 a year for three years or they take away my license. It's almost highway robbery. Why should I give these people, that had nothing to do in my case, any money at all? Hmmm pay them unfounded money or ride a bike everywhere in Texas... *because Texas is praised for its wonderful mass transit system*

There is nothing helpful about this Responsibilty Law at all. My responsibilty was taken care of in the court of law. Making me pay for my crime twice is absurd.

And the fact that people won't touch it because it puts in $3million a week angers me to no end. I'm so glad the states greed is greater than the cries of the people.

Truly this law has no merit and serves no purpose at all. In their miserable attempt to make people more responsible, they failed to realize one thing. People are already taking responsibilty in court.

Perhaps one day we'll find someone with enough courage to make things right, and propose a Bill to end this needless taxing ... err surcharging of peoples money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Seems Dallas and Bexar County Adult Probation Officers are starting to work together. Put Harris, Tarrant and Austin in the mix and I'd say CJAD is about to get a dose of reality. It's time for the public to see the neglectful and self-absorbed Judges. Looks like the worm may turn.