Friday, May 11, 2007

Texas House Honors Alison Brock

The Texas House today honored Speaker Pro Tem Sylvester Turner's Chief of Staff, Alison Brock, for her role uncovering and convincing legislators to act on the Texas Youth Commission scandals, reports R.G. Ratcliffe on the Houston Chronicle's Texas Politics blog. House Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden spoke up to recognize her contribution:
"There was one lone Texas Ranger who was trying to do his job," said Corrections Chairman Jerry Madden, R-Richardson. "The sad thing is, if he had been successful and gotten his prosecution, we would not have found out about all the other problems ... if it were not for Alison Brock."
What Sylvester Turner said about his aide's demure and unpretentious approach to her work couldn't be more true:
Turner said Brock does this "from her heart" and would not have wanted to be honored for her work. But he said she should stand as a symbol for all the legislative staffers who work long hours and never get credit for their deeds.
Alison was a colleague of mine for a while at ACLU. She's a hard and conscientious worker, a wise and gentle soul, and deserves every kudo bestowed upon her by the Texas House. Indeed, to my mind she (along with Isela Gutierrez of TCAJJ who first notified Alison about the unresolved allegations) deserve pehaps more credit, even, than Madden gave them because the Ranger's case was going nowhere until Alison got involved. As I've written previously, testifying before the joint committee, the Ranger told legislators he had
promised each of [the abused youth], "The Rangers would not fail them," and that this would not happen again. "I made that very clear."

"I can only imagine," he said, "what the students think about the Ranger who was unable to bring them justice." It's a good thing Sylvester Turner and Alison Brock were there.
Congratulations, Alison. You're a hero for this and all else you do, and a modest and selfless one to boot - I wish you nothing but the best.


Anonymous said...

Its good to know that ONE person can make a difference in TYC...I know I have tried SINCE all of this broke wide open.I brought a sexual misconduct case to my superintendent back in February.Since then my life has been a living hell of reprimands and verbal attacks..well, until Tuesday when she fired me, but I did remove TWO sexual predators before she got rid of, at least I know they won't be hurting anymore TYC youth.

Anonymous said...

And this is what happens when they decide we're "at will" employees. I'm sorry about what happened to you. Sucks on ice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I know i did the right thing, and retaliation is against the law, ya know? When they stop covering up for one another, sooner or later it will come out..and in the mean time, I am not going "quietly".

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that Alison Brock has been recognized not only for her hard work on the TYC fiasco, but for her tireless and dedicated work for all those in need of help in Texas. Although I have had occasion to speak with Alison by phone, it was a real treat to finally meet her in Austin during one of our meetings.
This young woman is dynamite walking and has all the qualities Austin needs to get the job done.
We always know we can count on Alison and Representative Turner to listen to the problems and become part of the solution.
Good work, Alison!

Anonymous said...

Oh, really? She broke this story? How about the people from TYC that presented it to legislators in March 2005? Go check out the archives from March 15, 2005 Corrections Committee hearing. Why hasn't the media really focused on Whitmire and Chuy and others saying no one told them about this back in 2005 when there is clear and convincing evidence to show that TYC told them?

Anonymous said...

To: Grits, Alison Brock, Representative Sylvester Turner, and all the Honest Texas Rangers and TYC Employees, much appreciation to your hard work on exposing these Evil Demons and helping the youth.


Anonymous said...

Everyone involved in bringing better programs and more funding to TYC deserves our heartfelt thanks.

The Main Stream Media and Blogs like Grits.....also get special credit for their efforts. Without a free press, much would be lost!

Anonymous said...

What a great job she did.

Yet let's not forget about the TYC employee/employees who desperately tried to exposed this entire mess to their facility and Central Office administration back in 2003-04. The employee was then basically told to stop gathering this information, yet refused. Then was told the administration is out to ruin their career. What recognition did this TYC employee receive except to be harassed to the point of constructive discharge. What recognition will that person receive for their courageous act.

The same administrator who that employee went to with this information ignored it. That administrator was then part of the harassment which lead to the employee resigning losing their retirement, 401K plan, an other earned state benefits.

Increditably this same administrator is still employed as an acting superintendent receiving two taxpayer funded paychecks for the same job he is still in now. Yes, my friends, what a scandel it is!!!!!!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@10:07 - I was at that hearing in 2005 (of Senate Criminal Justice, not House Corrections), and it's wrong to say Dwight Harris informed them.

Harris told senators at the end of a long hearing he had one more thing to notify them about, but waited till the meeting was over and literally senators were getting up to leave. Whitmire asked Harris to brief them at a later time. He never did.

That's why the media hasn't focused on it. The charge is a red herring. The senators should have followed up. As I wrote here, so should I. But Harris did not inform the Senators what was going on, and then for two years did nothing about it. Sorry, that criticism won't fly.

BTW, folks, I don't at all mean to diminish the courage of TYC whistleblowers who tried to do the right thing before then - I just wanted to highlight the work of an admirable and hardworking staffer who has made a big impact.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 10:07 PM
The key word is "broke "the story ! No one heard the complaints until Alison "broke"it to the individuals who did something about it . It takes tenacity ,perseverance and the knowledge of the subject you are presenting . All of these attributes make it possible for her to be effective . I join my Vice-Chair and applaud Alison for a job well done ,you go girl!

Anonymous said...

You know, the bottom line is this: The Ward County DA was notified and did nothing. Had he acted as he should have, we wouldn't be having this conversation. So yeah, I commend Alison for getting the thing prosecuted, but I very much believe that the brave caseworker, Bill Hollis, deserves credit for being so vocal as to draw attention to this matter to begin with, and our volunteer who ultimately called the Rangers. Those two deserve recognition as well.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Please tell us more about Hollis' role.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my God. That has got to be the bravest man I've ever seen. He barked, and I mean he was relentless. He clashed with the Superintendent before the Superintendent went out on medical leave regarding Brookins visiting kids after hours in the office, as well as Brookins demoting kid’s phases for minor infractions. He wrote and called Central Office frequently, particularly Dwight Harris, and just wouldn't give up. I don't think I can go into the specifics given the pending criminal case against Brookins and possibly others. But I can tell you this, when I say he barked, I mean, he really did. He wasn't going to let it go. He did the right thing; put his job on the line and everything. When Brookins gets tried and those facts are revealed, you’ll see what a hero this guy really was...

Anonymous said...

To Grits and anonymous 6:15am:

It's amazing how credit and heroism for doing our jobs is being given to some. I only know of one TYC employee who actually had youth statements of abuse in hand and had the guts to present the facts to his Chain of Command and then mail them to Central Office.

That individual never recieved anything but being told by his direct supervisor in 2003 that the superintendant and Asst Super., were out to ruin his career for addressing and presenting those issues, and he better stop.

Hollis was promoted, from Caseworker to Asst. Super., Ms. Brock had influential contacts. However, The former recommit caseworker at the Marlin facility was the first person to try to bring attention to the sex allegations at West Texas and other negative activities recommits were telling him going on at state schools.

Thank you Mr. Parker for what you did. The state should appologize to you for the way you were treated by Marlin administrators and TYC.

Anonymous said...

There you go Grits, I made my donation :) It's gotta suck being unemployed.... I'm just glad I'm staying alive right now...

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits,
I just noticed your paypal buttons and request for funds.
I know you work your ass off and you deserve to earn a living at this. You're damn good and I appreciate everything you do. But, can you post a P.O. box or address we can send cash, M.O. or cashier's check to you instead of electronically? I'd rather do it that way. Since we know the money is going to you and we're doing it freely, sending it that way shouldn't matter should it?

Anonymous said...

This blog site deserves recognition.

Scott Henson connected the constituents with the law makers and this, by far, has been revolutionary and unprecedented in the manner constituents communicate to their elected officials.

This is just absolutely outstanding journalism. Henson deserves recognition, and let’s keep the “Grit” alive….

Anonymous said...

to anonymous @12:19

I know Bill Hollis, and I know what he went through trying to get someone to listen about Brookins. The fact that he was promoted has nothing to do with anything. And one thing I can say about Billy is to my knowledge he has never sought, or received, any accolades for what he did. It was never about him - it was about the injustices and mistreatment he and many of us at WTSS were trying to stop. Grits, if you want to know more about Hollis' role in all this, check out the TYC report that was distributed with the original story from the DMN. He is the WTSS CSW who filed the grievance with the 10+ allegations of mistreatment. He too, was persecuted and harrassed and told by Lydia Barnard that he needed to stop...
There are many people to be thanked for their information and persistance during these investigations. No one person could have done this alone - and no one person can put us back I just hope we can all join forces and bring ourselves out of this mess - and very soon. There is plenty of thanks - and criticism - to go around. I think we should all share in some of both.

Anonymous said...

Hollis was a case worker at West Texas. He filed the first complaint knowing that he was oing against his Superintendent (Chip Harrison) and Assistant Superintendent (Ray Brookins).

If he turned a blind eye like so many others did for fear of losing their jobs we would not have all this drama.

But, if the upper management would have taken Hollis statements and actually investigated what he reported, we would not have Ranger Bruzinski, Brock, Kimbrough, Owens, etc, etc.

Bill is a good man and doe not take credit for any of this, he believe it was his job to report.

Anonymous said...

Anytime a child of any age has been injured in any way, we are all morally obligated to report this and help the child. It is to bad that all the sick people who were abusing those children, have managed to bring us all to this point.

I am so tired of this witch hunt. We are losing employees left and right because no one wants to be the last ones left hunting for jobs. And the they think they are UNTOUCHABLE and are close to being at a point of running the facilities. The more JCOs and more training sure hasn't shown up yet and it needs to in a hurry or we are going to have people getting hurt worse than they already are.

The statement about the rangers being on the facility every day is a joke. The only time they go to a facility is when a complaint needs to be investigated. All of the statements being given to the press is a bunch of malarky to make it look like they are getting everything under control..By August of this year, we will probably see the highest population that TYC has ever had. All the little gang bangers will be out all summer stealing cars and breaking into houses and guess where they will go back to because of parole violation..Your right TYC. The TYC which has less guards and no new training facility for that new 300 hour requirement. The TYC which still hasn't changed up it's resocializtion that was supposedly so bad. The same TYC that it was an emergency in February that something had to be done. 99% of the employees go to work, do their job and have been the brunt of the insults hurled by the legislators. They honestly care what happens to the kids and try to instill some morals in them. The local bible study groups come faithfully and never give up.

If so many of these children were being abused and sexually molested on the facilities,as the staff has been accused of, why wasn't the medical staff reporting it? Isn't there a state law about reporting child abuse when suspected.

Regular hospitals and medical staff reports such things all the time. The medical staff are not TYC employees, so they shouldn't have worried about retaliation.

In fact, there is so much UNcooperation between the medical and TYC that the medical would be jumping up and down with glee to get the TYC staff in trouble for this.

It is a fact that we have gang members in the dorms who talk other kids in to doing their dirty work, but the abuse is not as pervasive as the legislators scream about.

Every legislators needs to work on one of the dorms for a week incognito before they make any decisions about the TYC system or any other juvinile justice changes.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hey thanks Whitsfoe and all,

I've already received two donations before even posting on it (maybe later today I'll make an official "bleg"). I don't have a PO box anymore (I let it go when I thought I'd be with ACLU indeterminately), but I'll rectify that in the near future. Thanks for yall's support!

And as to the comment string, I agree it's a sad state of affairs when doing your job earns praise, but that's the world we live in. Courage is in short supply everywhere you look - at the Lege, at state agencies, private companies (how many Enron employees knew something was wrong?), and everywhere else. That won't change until more people start to stand up to do the right thing, and damn the consequences, everywhere in civil society. As demonstrated at TYC, some of those who do inevitably will pay a tremendous price to pave the way for those who follow them, but it's the only way to change a culture that encourages mediocrity and coverups.

Anonymous said...

Grits, helping you hang in there is really helping ourselves so it's really a no-brainer. Where else can you go to get relevant links to the MSM, legislative hearings and have input from people actually involved in the process? Sometimes it's pretty entertaining too. With all the poetry and funny or exciting stuff I've seen on here, one night's reading is worth the 20 bucks I'd spend going to the movies!
This is how the world should run- everyone and all the information in one place! If the lege and Perry have any savy, they should send you funds too. I think you may have made or broken some careers here! If nothing else, just from the TYC section alone you should get all the funding they spend on making the internal TYC newsletters since you do a better job than they do reporting what's happening and representing the staff! You rock it Scott! I'm one of those hanging out for the mailing option of sending support so post it as soon as you've got it!