Thursday, August 30, 2007

Best Quote from Yesterday's TYC Hearing

State Rep. Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball): "We're tending the flowers around the house while the house is caving in." You nailed it, Representative.

Here's a roundup of MSM coverage of the hearing:
UPDATE: Just to keep readers in the loop, here's an open records request I shot off this morning to TYC's PR men, Jim Hurley and Tim Savoy, as a result of documents mentioned and questions raised at yesterday's hearing:
Jim and Tim,

Good to see you both yesterday. And thanks for getting the FAQ online - I'm going to be going into it in more detail soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to request a couple of documents Ms. Pope referenced at yesterday's hearing:
  • Project Reform Update Aug. 13, 2007
  • Packet of supplemental information given to legislators for yesterday's hearing
Ideally, in the name of "transparency," it'd be great if y'all would put those two documents online. But at a minimum I'd like to get copies of both of them.

In addition, I was interested in Dr. Raimer's testimony yesterday and a commenter suggested I ask for these documents, so I'll add them to the request:
  • copies of TYC's internal monitoring reports of the quality of the medical care, beginning April 2007 to the present, and
  • a copy of the report from this spring by the ACA consultants.
Thanks in advance for your prompt response in this matter.

Scott Henson
Grits for Breakfast


Anonymous said...

Is it fair to say that the lege, despite headlines suggesting they "grilled" TYC officials, have basically sanctioned the current direction of the agency?

I greatly appreciate all your work this week but would love to see your overall take / analysis on the proceedings.

Unfortunately, I probably won't have time watch the video for another day or so. Did you speak? Who addressed the committee besides Pope and Owens?

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Second best quote: "'s all bullshit."

I had (admittedly minimal) hope that Whitmire would again call for heads to roll or at least hold TDCJjr accountable for delayed reports, no programs, no staff. Ah, the joys of delusional thinking.

Then, in the Statesman, the world became bright again, albeit for only a moment:
"Perrys to move out for Governor's Mansion improvements"
Amazing (I thought), he finally realized that leaving was the only answer to TYC's problems (not to mention the problems for the rest of the state).... or maybe somebody had told him the elections had been moved up a couple of years...

Reality hit; the building was being fixed, not the governor.

Oh well, 3 day weekend coming with a payday at the end of business on Friday... Tuesday hangovers aren't so bad.

Anonymous said...

"State Sen. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano): 'We're tending the flowers around the house while the house is caving in.' You nailed it, Senator."

That was Rep. Debbie "The Riddler" Riddle, not Shapiro. Shapiro did not attend the meeting.

Knowing that ... is it still your favorite quote? ;)

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Bill, it's more than "fair" to say that. Whitmire wholeheartedly endorsed the administration and its direction, though you could see the others squirming in their seats when he did it

On the question of who else spoke, I did not - at this point I'm sure they know what I think about things! The full list of witnesses should be posted here soon, perhaps even today.

I came home about 1:30 to listen on the webcast, then had to quit listening before the end, so I'm going to watch the last of it (the missus says the Advocacy Inc. person had good testimony), report on that, then perhaps give a final overview.

Offhand, though, my two initial reactions were disappointment and curiosity, both mostly aimed at Chairman Whitmire: Disappointment that he gave the bungling administration a pass, even defended them, for the most part, and curiosity as to why. The Chairman was on his worst behavior yesterday, both aggressive and rude, and nearly the entire time I kept wondering what motivated him.

Someone at the hearing said to me they thought the pols have a lot of stakes in reinforcing the narrative, "A problem was discovered, politicians scurried around, then it was fixed and now the public doesn't have to think about it." To say SB 103 didn't "fix" TYC calls into question all their public statements that they're on top of it.

That's part of it, I think, but if that's it I think it's unwise - better for them to acknowledge the problems, as Sen. Shapiro did, than to wait with your head in the sand until the next media flurry. Several statements made at the hearing, particularly from Da Pope, as the TYC employees and ex-employees in the halls all universally called the E.D. - simply contradicted reality and were accepted uncritically in ways that made me ... well, as I said, curious.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks, Shannon, for correcting the error - I pulled that quote from The Daily Texan's coverage and figured she arrived after I had to leave.

And no, it doesn't change my opinion. I like Debbie Riddle, actually. Don't agree with her all the time, certainly, but she's a nice gal, as pols go. She's earnest and well meaning, she's just out of her league on a lot of the high-concept criminal justice stuff. She was right on the money here, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree about Whitmire - what was he on yesterday?!! I saw the last couple of hours on the webcast. It was like watching a legislative version of Roid Rage.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe not one committee member questioned the comment concerning the 12-1 staff ratio.

IMO this was just another dog and pony show paid for by the taxpayers , TYC employees and others.

Anonymous said...

Scott, maybe you are now seeing the good Dean in the same light as some of us have?

Unknown said...

Bill B. and others who don't have time to watch the entire 8 1/2 hours of hearing footage:

The testimony from Monica Thyssen of Advocacy Inc. was very informative.

Susan Moynahan, the TYC review officer from the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, also gave great information. She's charged with visiting all the Harris County kids in TYC facilities, and has apparently been to just about every facility in the state and talked to something like 457 kids, so her opinions seem pretty informed, at least about what the kids are saying.

Anonymous said...

We teach kids in TYC about "Thinking Errors." Chief among them is "Deceiving," which includes, in addition to outright lying, not telling the whole truth, leaving out significant parts, or shading the facts with the intention of deceiving the listener. I wish I could use Ms Pope's testimony as an example to show the kids in group. They would get it, even if Sen Whitmire did not.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@1:22 - I get it, but he does a lot of good stuff, too, especially compared to some of his senate colleagues. I try to be critical when he deserves it and also to give credit where credit is due. All that said, to understate things significantly, yesterday was not his best day.

I love the idea of using legislative testimony to teach "Thinking Errors", btw, 5:04. That'd be a fun instructional video. :) best

Anonymous said...

Anyone else hear the "your girlfriend" reference by someone unknown at the end of the hearing to Sen. Whitmire? Seems it was edited out of the archive. Could it be that they were referring to the relationship between he and a certain acting executive director? Therein my lie the "why" Grits was referring to in his 10:06 post.

Anonymous said...

That is exactly why Whitmire was on his good behavior. I can't believe you all don't know that by now. Especially you Grits.

Anonymous said...

( A little birdie said that Pope was named in Whitmire's divorce a few years back )

Anybody have access to the Harris County Divorce Court Records ??

You may understand then how she got to where she is today.........

Anonymous said...

And why we are probably stuck with her as our ED.

Anonymous said...

Here's a little something the legislators might want to read sometime.

Quoting from Judge Justice's decision in Morales:

"The use of tear gas and other chemical crowd-control devices in situations not posing an imminent threat to human life or an imminent and substantial threat to property - but merely as a form of punishment - constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment"

Bill Bush

Anonymous said...

Maybe, they're telling WWJ to take a hike. Wouldn't be the first time. I'm a bit surprised no one's picked up Pope's explanation that kids may be sprayed for not participating in programmatic activities. For those that doubt that, listen to her testimony, carefully.

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed.

Anonymous said...

The FAQ is a farce. It addresses nothing of any substance, and is certainly not a clear or comprehensive look into the "state of the agency". As for Whitmire doing a lot of good things...only takes one "oh shit" to wipe out all those "atta boys". His endorsement of the Owens/Pope crew is, in my humble opinion, an indictment of his lack of ethics and integrity.

Anonymous said...

And it it took them how many weeks with all of the supposed new 20-hr a day employees to come up with that FAQ?

Anonymous said...

Dear Bronco Billy,

I'm a big fan of your Wild West show, but I didn't like the peppa!

Anonymous said...

What is the link to see the hearing? Anyone know? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

try this link