Saturday, June 09, 2007

A week of transition for the movement and me

It's been a week of change in Grits' world, for sure -

Due to staff expansion and tight quarters at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, the last of my makeshift office there was delivered back home this week. Along with the boxes of books and files came a plaque thanking me for being an "unfailing ally" during the legislative sesion, and I must admit it was a bit of a melancholy moment.

I retained an informal relation with TCJC after I left ACLU of Texas, but after some grant work fell through there was no paycheck in it, and as of now, I suppose, I'm officially, completely unaffiliated with any organization, FWIW. I suppose that's another way of saying nobody will have anything to do with me.

Thank heavens for you readers, anyway - I'm assuming you don't care where I blog from.

My own transition comes at a time of radical change and uncertainty in Texas' criminal justice reform movement, most prominently with my former employers at the ACLU. After Will Harrell left to become TYC's new ombudsman, I predicted:
Will's departure will have significant implications for ACLU in Texas, likely spelling the end of much of its public policy and advocacy work and presaging a lessened focus on criminal justice, with a greater emphasis instead on litigating church-state and other culture war type issues.
That's now occurring. Soon after Will left, the visionless drone serving as ACLUTX's acting ED began meeting with employees who worked on criminal justice topics to let them know the organization would be shifting priorities to different, as-yet-to-be determined issues. The group's Prison and Jail Accountability Project Director Nicole Porter's last day was yesterday. The group is basically driving away it's hard-won talent with a whip.

It's hard to tell yet what ACLUTX's implosion means for the criminal justice reform movement in Texas, but it's an important transition moment, for sure, leaving a lot of people besides just me wondering, what next?


Anonymous said...

Use all that free time to run for office.

Grits for Governor!

Anonymous said...

"visionless drone" ... heh!

Anonymous said...


Gritsforbreakfast said...

Hmmmm ... MIA, perhaps I'll next "become" a 40-year old unemployed blogger! Oh, wait - I can already check that off the list. ;) Let's hope there's a next after that.

Anon, that's actually one of the more polite phrases I might have chosen.

And to IWTS - I'm afraid for that to happen Grits' fundraising would need to improve from its current much-appreciated but not quite gubernatorial levels! best,

Anonymous said...

Hang loose, fight the good fight. Have lunch on me.

Gritsforbreakfast said...


Cool, thanks Racy! And good advice, indeed. best,

Anonymous said...

So who is the acting ED of ACLUTX?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

His name is Marti Garza. He worked for a union in California before coming to Texas.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why you view a fresh voice at the top of the TX ACLU (an ED search is underway) and a broadening of issues on which to focus as "implosion." Yes, prison issues are important, but so are other issues.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Have you met Marti? I'd hardly call him a fresh voice. He's basically mute.

And they'd better hurry with that ED search because he's driving away the group's talent right now, dismantling most of the structures that created the organization's successes in recent years. That includes other issues besides criminal justice like the entire legislative program, which continued to exist after Will's departure SOLELY because volunteers kept it going in spite of Garza's utter disinterest.

Gutting his staff and stifling years of criminal justice work for which the group earned a national reputation does not represent a broadening of ACLUTX's interests, but a dramatic narrowing - a decision only to care about whitebread culture war stuff instead of more concrete civil liberties issues. I hope I'm wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about how all this shakes out for you, and for ACLU of Texas.

I have no doubt, however, that you'll end up on your feet somewhere, doing work that matters to you.

I look forward to it. Thanks for your incisive and studious work on civil liberties and CJ issues. I'm pretty sure a lot of other people have noticed it too.

P.S. I know your institutional situation has changed, but would you consider restoring some of your links? They've been a good resource for me. I know i can find them cached on Google -- but why have scrubbed them?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Which links were you looking for? I don't think I've "scrubbed" any, certainly not because of any change in affiliation. Sometimes I reshuffle links if I haven't been reading certain blogs very often or to add new ones, but most of the research-oriented stuff should still be on the sidebar on the main page. Thanks for the good wishes. best,