Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tim Cole statue unveiled in Lubbock, and other stories

Here are a few items from the last week that may interest Grits readers but which lost out in the competition for time with my paid work:

Tim Cole memorialized by VIPs at statue unveiling
Lubbock this week unveiled a 13-foot tall statue of Timothy Cole, who was falsely convicted of rape in that county and died in prison before his innocence could be proven. Lots of VIPs there, including Gov. Perry and both the Democratic and Republican nominees to succeed him. See CNN's coverage, AP, and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Perhaps the best way politicians could honor Timothy Cole next session would be to pass the final, unfinished recommendation from the Timothy Cole Advisory Panel: Requiring police to record custodial interrogations for serious offenses.

Texas Association of Business goes 'Smart on Crime'
A left-right "Smart on Crime" coalition formally announced this week including the Texas Public Policy Foundation, my part-time employers at the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, the Texas Association of Business, and Goodwill Industries. The big news here really is the Texas Association of Business stepping up to the plate more seriously on the subject. Their interests are mainly in continuing adequate supply in the labor market, but at this moment in history that aligns their interests with less-government reformers on the left and right who think limited state resources should be spent on more productive endeavors than incarceration.

Abuses reveal Houston cops' mercenary view of ticket writing
Prosecutors in Houston will dismiss hundreds of Class C charges, reported the Houston Chronicle (Sept. 18), because four police officers lied on the tickets, claiming their colleagues were present at the stop so they could cheat on their overtime records. The four officers were recently "relieved of duty" and are "being investigated for criminal conduct." One frequently hear politicians claim the purpose of ticket writing is to enforce the law, not generate revenue.  But for these cops it was about generating revenue: overtime, for themselves.

Harris DA candidates: End key-man system of grand jury selection
Both R and D District Attorney candidates in Harris County believe the key man system of selecting grand juries should be eliminated, reported HouChron columnist Lisa Falkenberg (Sept. 18). So do I. Problem is, judges make those appointments and nobody can tell them what to do but the Legislature. So if you want to change how grand juries are picked, the candidates might be running for the wrong office. I'm old fashioned that way, but I'd prefer the candidates debate stuff that's actually part of the DA's job.

The Driver Responsibility surcharge is still a catastrophe
The Texas Observer's Forrest Wilder has a column decrying Texas' Driver Responsibility surcharge; nothing regular Grits readers haven't heard before but he outlines the problem well and expresses the appropriate level of outrage at one of the most dysfunctional programs in all of state government.

Who is operating fake cell phone towers in Texas, US?
Popular Science wondered, "Who is running the phony cell-phone towers around the US?" (Sept. 15). Like me, they think it's probably cops and spooks. See prior Grits coverage.

Making slime
Off topic, but this was a lot of fun to do with the granddaughter this morning. A big hit. Eight year olds love to make slime.


Lucy Frost said...

I'm really glad about the Tim Cole statue. I had the honor of meeting his late mother and have met his brother as well.

One suggestion for an improvement --- I think it should be placed on the courthouse grounds.

Anonymous said...

Judges may make the appointments to grand juries but the Harris County DA's Office has been handing, literally, judges lists of names to serve on the grand jury.

Wonder if that practice has stopped or simply continues without anyone being the wiser?