Thursday, November 14, 2013

Trooper telemarketing, prosecutor problems, and other stories

Here are a few odds and ends that caught my attention today and may interest Grits readers:

Troopers association sues to keep up telemarketing scheme
The Texas State Troopers Association is the latest law-enforcement related entity to get in trouble for fundraising campaigns that spend more money on telemarketers than actually go to the organization. See coverage from the Austin Statesman and the Dallas Observer. Reported the former, "According to the organization’s 2012 tax forms, the group raised more than $3.2 million and paid $2.5 million of it to a telemarketing firm. The association’s largest expense, $311,000, was for salaries. Other costs included $76,000 for lobbying and $35,000 in benefits to members." The group has sued to avoid up to $1 million in fines and avoid several of its boardmembers from being banned from the group. TSTA is ostensibly a labor union - and they do lobby at the Legislature for better trooper wages and benefits - but most unions operate on dues, not donations. Grits has long despised these telemarketing schemes manipulating the public's sympathy for law enforcement.

Dewhurst: TJJD unit in Corsicana will close
The Austin Statesman is reporting that the Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility in Corsicana will close as the Legislature directed earlier this year, at least according to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. He and Joe Straus had earlier suggested reversing course and keeping it open at the behest of legislators from the area, but the Lege had cut the funding and there was never a sound plan to find additional funds to keep it open. The facility, which "first opened in 1887 as an orphanage," "once housed more than 200 youths, [but] held only 65 on Thursday."

More problems for Ken Anderson?
Pam Colloff at Texas Monthly explains why spending 10 days in jail may be the least of Ken Anderson's problems once the new Williamson County DA and Innocence Project attorneys begin reviewing his and John Bradley's old cases. Check out the disdainful comments from Texas Monthly readers on their Facebook page reacting to Anderson's sentence.

How to reverse a conviction for a crime that doesn't exist
Mark Bennett has a post explaining the bad Court of Criminal Appeals precedent that could prevent some defendants convicted of the voided crime of online solicitation of a minor from securing appellate relief. He's also identified a case out of Conroe that could allow for successfully challenging another part of the statute.

'Tradeoffs in cybersecurity'
Via Bruce Schneier, I was interested in reading this fascinating talk by Dan Greer with the same title as this subhed. I liked this pithy line: "All you engineers know that for the engineer, it is 'fast, cheap, reliable: choose two.'  I am here to argue that for policy makers working the cybersecurity beat, it is 'freedom, security, convenience: choose two.'" The whole thing is worth a read.

America has more prisoners than high school teachers
So reported Saki Knafo at the Huffington Post. Indeed, since the numbers Knafo reported exclude those in county jails, he actually understates the situation.


Russ said...

come Monday they will move those 65 kids and by Dec 1 Corsicana will be history. Whitimire won and Griffith got his way, I can see them grinning like O'Possums.
I fell for those boys. Where they are going they are not ready.

Anonymous said...

So, what is the difference in the statute 15.031 Criminal Solicitation of a Minor and the statutes that Mark is arguing?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Maybe Bennett will show up to answer that, 9:38, I fear I'm not qualified to say.

Mark Bennett said...

9:38, it's an excellent question. Section 15.031 requires the intent that a crime be committed. Section 33.021 explicitly does not.

The intent that a crime be committed is a crucial element of what the Supreme Court calls solicitation. If the legislature calls it "solicitation" but doesn't require proof of an intent that a crime be committed, it's not solicitation.

Anonymous said...

Hey Grits,

TSTA is not the real association that represents the DPS officers. They do not lobby for the troopers. TSTA is a marketing group (fake 501C with a high paid executive).

The real troopers Association is DPSOA, not TSTA.

Grits be sure you remove than TSTA sticker on your car, because that trooper will most likely give you that speeding ticket for having the fake association sticker on your car.

Anonymous said...

What about FOP? They feed off that telemarketing money and fought any legislation to outlaw the practice.

Anonymous said...

It would make my day if Bradley caught caught too--then maybe that would blowback on Rick Perry and we can get his ignorant @ss out of office

Gritsforbreakfast said...

No TSTA sticker on my car, 2:13. Note I said they were "ostensibly" a labor union but "most unions operate on dues, not donations." I don't know enough about DPSOA's finances to judge if they're any better. And even some "legitimate" LE labor unions use some of these same, sleazy practices. I'm afraid sometimes it's hard to tell the good guys from the sleazebags.

FOP is legitimately a union in some other states but I don't know of a single Texas department where they represent a majority of officers. (Somebody correct me if I'm wrong.) Here, as far as I can tell, they're just a front for another telemarketing scam.

JJ said...

"I'm afraid sometimes it's hard to tell the good guys from the sleazebags."

You just summed up modern law enforcement.

rodsmith said...

LOL isn't that the truth!

Heck in some areas the so-called Legal Law Enforcement are a bigger threat and bigger set of crooks then the real ones!