Saturday, April 14, 2007

Where is press coverage on these big stories?

Since I've been tracking criminal justice topics at the Lege so closely, I thought I'd mention several recent stories covered here on Grits that I'm surprised haven't resulted in significant headlines around the state:

1. Senate backs more prisons: Earlier this year, if state leadership even mentioned the possibility of new prison building it made headlines. Then the Texas Youth Commission scandal came and knocked the issue off reporters' radar screen. When the Senate Finance Committee three weeks ago approved construction of three new prisons, not one newspaper in the state reported it as its own story, though it was mentioned in passing this week when the Senate passed its full budget. The House budget does not contain new prison funding, so this contentious issue must be decided in conference committee.

(UPDATE: The Houston Chronicle finally picked up the story about new prisons up on 4/15.)

2. New TYC Executive Director may have covered up a sex scandal: Gov. Rick Perry appointed then-TDCJ #2 man Ed Owens, whose wife is chair of the Board of Pardons and Parole, to run the Texas Youth Commission. But last year the state settled a lawsuit (amount sealed, but supposedly in the mid-six figures) that alleged in part that Owens covered up allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by a high-level subordinate. There was a lawsuit filed and settled containing allegations of a coverup by TYC's new chief that are thematically similar to those that caused the last ED to resign - why hasn't this been covered?

3. Governor Perry's border initiative doesn't coordinate with Texas' major drug enforcement efforts: The Texas Observer's coverage this week focused new attention on the Governor's homeland security machinations, but to me the biggest revelations about Texas border security operations this spring have so far been ignored by the press. In recent testimony, a DPS Narcotics division commander revealed that Governor Perry's much-ballyhooed Operations Linebacker/Rio Grande/Wrangler did not coordinate or share information with DPS Narcotics, do not participate in anti-drug agreements with Mexican law enforcement, and don't utilize federal "deconfliction" centers to make sure their efforts didn't harm other investigations. Asked about eleven new "joint operational intelligence centers" the Governor says are managing Texas' border surge, DPS Narcotics says they "didn't have anything to do" with them, even though DPS is the state's primary drug enforcement agency. Despite the Governor's management of border operations increasingly resembling the Keystone Kops, the House approved $100 million (in GR) and the Senate approved $54 million (only $10 million GR).

I would have thought each of these stories deserved press attention, but so far the MSM has been silent, particularly on the last two topics. What gives? Am I missing something, or don't these stories deserve broader media play?


Anonymous said...

Grits you have brought up 3 important things I would like carried by the news media. If the news media does not point out what our elected officials are doing we might find ourselves in trouble.

Another story I have not seen talked about is the Galloway kid TYC and Jay Kimbrough have released back in our town. It almost made me puke to hear his mother lie about what he did to get put in TYC, 2 charges of aggravated sex assault on a child. He did a lot more than touch his little brother and sister. The judge did not make him register as a sex offender so when he moves people in other places will not have a clue what he has done to young kids. I heard the Galloways might be moving because local folks know too much about what the Galloway boy did. I even heard CPS said he could not go home where his little brother and sister are.

Most of all I can not believe Senator John Whitmire let Ginger Galloway talk about her son in hearing after hearing. To hear her tell the story her boy just touched the brother and sister, what a liar she is. Then she brings the 19 year old son back so he can have his way with her other kids again. I bet all the things he said about what happened at TYC are lies to get some law suit money off the state or he tried the same thing on one of the boys in TYC and got his butt beat.

Anonymous said...

I'll bet you were also sure the Duke Lacrosse players were guilty! Our system of criminal justice makes a mistake and incarcerates someone that is innocent far far more often than it releases someone too soon!

I believe folks like you are also a threat to society because you don't seem to have any compassion.

billt said...

to anon. at 12:55...whatever happened to giving a person the benefit of a doubt? were you there? my momma always told me to treat others as i would want to be treated. the way you talk about galloway, i guess that's how you'd want someone to talk about you if you were accused of something like that? God gives us mercy, i think we should show it for others. sure, what he was convicted of was bad, but he's done his time and hopefully learned his lesson. if not, tdcj has a bed for him. we don't need to add a lot of hatred. as for his victims, may God heal them and protect them.

John D. McLauchlan said...

I share your frustration, Scott. To read the DMN's coverage of the legislature, you'd think there were only half a dozen or so bills pending this session. Of course they've covered TYC ad nauseam, but I agree they're missing some stories.

The prisons are a mess as is the Dallas County Jail. Yet, the legislature has been going nuts with the enhancements they're trying to pass. New punishments...haven't a clue where they're gonna put 'em. Jeez.

The Border. Gov'nuh Goodhair talks a good game, but I fear he's learned too much from the President on how to screw things up.

Anonymous said...

If you think raping two little kids is not a big deal, then you need some serious help. I don’t blame the local people for thinking Galloway might be a problem in the future and a risk to children. From what I have read about child sexual predators, they don’t often get to where they can be trusted around children. Also what impact has this had on the two little victims? I read the victims are now having a hard time at school because their brother is home. My heart goes out to the little brother and sister. I hope the sex offender can keep himself from raping his little brother and sister again. For those of you who feel so much compassion for the sex offender, I wonder how you would feel if you were raped and the legal system paroled your rapist to live in your home and you had no say in the matter. The individual who said if he has not learned his lesson TDCJ has a bed for him has completely over looked his next victims. This is not a young man (19) who stole a car that can be replaced; he raped 2 small children who are scared for life.

Young people who did minor things should not be sent to TYC and they need to free the ones they have that did minor crimes. Kids make bad choices and I don’t think we need to keep them locked up unless they are a real danger to society. We need safe places to try to help kids who want help.

We don’t need to be making a celebrity of the Galloway youth because he did a very bad thing on more than one occasion. He will most likely do the same things again and we put him back in the exact same environment he committed his crimes.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see any mention of TYC's new chief of staff in the lawsuit or in the settlement. Where is she mentioned?

Anonymous said...

I thinks the issue with the Galloway situation is Momma pretending that she cares, reality she sees money. He was at three Institutions and was assaulted at every one, could it be that he was claiming to be a White-Supremacist" and he was just a little out numbered? Ask about the pictures of him glorifying this, which were taken up and the picture will become just a little clearer about this poor mistreated young man.

This whole TYC saga is just window dressing for covering up those in office who had knowledge of all of this and did not act, now they are over reacting. Friday 13th TYC in Austin sent out their new policy governing staff and crimes; No felon will work for TYC, No person charged with a drug crime will work for TYC, no person with Family Violence will work for TYC, no person with any class A or B in the past 5 years will work for TYC. My question is, does this same standard apply to all State agencies? If not how can this same standard apply to TYC, how about our elected officials, can we apply this standard to them, if we did we would have to start having elections real soon because most would be out on their ear.

Anonymous said...

Why is the MSM not picking up the Ed Owens issue?? Why are they not interested in a person who was in a situation where taxpayers had to pay a settlement that he could have prevented? Why are our elected officials walking around with blinders on with this issue?

Anonymous said...

By the local people 12:55/7:13 claims are afraid of Galloway being released, I guess you aren't referring to the local elected judge who as you pointed out did not require sex offender registry, etc. It sounds like CPS and the relevant government agencies, anyway, are handling the matter.

Besides, according to press accounts Galloway was significantly abused at TYC. Whatever he did, and a judge already determined that, your word doesn't matter much, nobody deserves to be abused in prison, especially minors.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ anon 7:37, it wasn't the new chief of staff at TDCJ mentioned in the lawsuit, it was the new executive director, Ed Owens.

Anonymous said...

Uhm, who is the MSM and don't they read Grits?? Sorry, I keep seeing those initals used and have no idea what that is.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No problemo, sorry for the web slang. MSM stands for "mainstream media"

Anonymous said...

Wow, the Houston Chronical finally picked up the story on the new prisons- whooo-hoooo! Gees. Yawn.
Uh... hello (taps on monitor screen), are there any investigative reporters still out there? Is there something else more interesting going on?
You would think toppling Owens as an appointed agency head (if he deserves it)and looking into why Perry has his own entity in place when there's already one established to handle what he's doing would be worth looking into?? Come on guys and gals! Put down your bagels and english muffins and hit the turf! And, if there's nothing bad found- tell us so we can all shut up!

Anonymous said...

Have you had a good laugh today yet? If not, look at the comment this guy made regarding the understaffed prisons (in the Houston Chronicle story):

Chisum said he isn't overly concerned that TDCJ could blossom into a TYC-like problem because of its staffing shortage.
"Shortage of staffing just means we have people working overtime, so we're not short of guards during the shift. Some of them may be pulling a double shift," he said. "We'd love to have enough people not to do that, but it's really not a very physically trying job, sometimes, just guarding prisoners, especially if they just ... work 12 hours (in a shift). A lot of them are capable of doing that, and they need the overtime, because it's not the highest-paying job in the world."

I just love how he contradicts himself:
"Shortage of staffing just means we have people working overtime, so we're not short of guards during the shift..."
Oh, by the way Mr. Chisum, you should have remembered what you JUST said when you then burped up this:
..."Some of them may be pulling a double shift," he said. "We'd love to have enough people not to do that, but it's really not a very physically trying job..."

Wait- so you're not short staffed but then you are- uh, Oh, I get it, you must be a politician and you didn't know what I wanted to hear so you told me both! Gee, thanks!

Uh... let's see if I understand you; if someone is working overtime or a double shift, it just means they want to because it's fun and so relaxing. I just don't understand why there is a 12% staff shortage then. Wouldn't everyone want to work at such a fun, mindlessly undemanding place? There should be 0% shortage on that joy of a job! Sign me up Mr. Chisum!

Anonymous said...

Warren Chisum wouldn't last 2 minutes in the not-physically-trying job of a Texas CO - he's only about 4'2". Hobbits don't do well in this environment.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe he actually said that it's not a very difficult job. It's a freaking mind drain in TYC, trying to keep these juveniles from having sex with one another, constantly wrestling them, feeding them, educating them, and most importantly, keeping them safe from each other. I bet the TDC guys are going to go banshee when they hear what he said. They should. Give 'em hell guys.

Anonymous said...

Say, Grits can you find out if TDCJ and other State agencies have the same stringent rules in regarding current and prospective employees as TYC now has?? No felons, not domestic violence, no drug charges, no class A or B misdemeanor in the past year. This not only effects those staff we are trying to recruit but will end the careers of hundreds of correctional, case work, and other positions. What a joke, a person cannot make any mistakes in life and expect to work for this agency. How would like to know if the bar is raised this high for other state agencies and for our elected officials, they too should be as clean as our TYC employees.