Monday, August 29, 2011
The 55-year-old polygamist leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been incarcerated at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Powledge Unit, near Palestine, about 100 miles southeast of Dallas. He was convicted in early August on two counts of child rape against underage girls that he took as "spiritual brides."
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Lack of public outrage in response to these shennanigans was actually disturbing, and allowed a department that regularly flaunted the rules to act pretty much with impunity; on any number of occasions, I went to publicly announced meetings for its fire board, only to discover that they had been rescheduled for an earlier time and different location, effectively denying the public access to them. One interesting item of note is that the documents the department's board members refused to reveal to the public actually contained nothing and that they invoked attorney-client privilege simply to obscure their actual, personal reasons for refusing to put out fires. Their attitudes toward their vocation are revealed in some of the quotes that follow; "Heroes of 9/11" these guys are not.
CANYON LAKE CITES SAFETY IN ENDING MUTUAL AID
Invokes Attorney-Client Privilege in Withholding Details from Public
CANYON LAKE, TEXAS -- At its regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, the Emergency Services District (ESD) 3 Board of Directors for Canyon Lake Fire/EMS only briefly covered the subject of the lapsed mutual aid agreements between Canyon Lake Fire/EMS and the Spring Branch Volunteer Fire Department (SBVFD).
“This is not a gigantic issue at the moment,” ESD 3 Board President Keith Lewis said after reading a short prepared statement on the lapsed agreement, which has been a matter of pressing concern to many residents of the affected communities. Since June, Canyon Lake has declined to render aid at least twice when requested by Spring Branch and has refused to accept it at least once.
Two of those incidents were house fires and one was a grass fire near a home and, in all of the calls, help had to be brought in from more-distant Bulverde and/or Blanco instead.
Chief Sean Wherry responded to Lewis’ statement on mutual aid by noting that he was scheduled to meet with SBVFD Board President Larry Hatfield to discuss the agreements. Two weeks earlier, Hatfield appeared at a special meeting of the ESD 3 Board, read the Fireman’s Prayer, and implored them to restore the mutual aid agreements.
“We’re prepared to sit down and constructively discuss mutual aid with them provided that our safety concerns, and incident command concerns, are properly addressed,” Lewis told The Hilltop Reporter.
Lewis cited “general safety concerns” as the reason for no longer observing the mutual aid agreements and said a list of them had been turned over to the SBVFD Board two months earlier, at a meeting at the Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Station #1 on or about June 19, 2010.
When asked what those concerns were, however, Lewis declined to answer.
“Under the advice of counsel, we cannot at this juncture share detailed written documents, because they are under attorney-client privilege,” Lewis said, refusing also to verbalize the contents of those documents.
“Our whole concern revolves around how a fire scene gets managed and how our firefighters get protected,” Lewis said. “We are not going to have our firefighters exposed to dangerous fire scene activity.”
The Hilltop Reporter also asked the board if anyone associated with Canyon Lake Fire/EMS would be liable if someone died or property was lost in an incident for which they had declined to render aid to Spring Branch when requested or accept it when offered.
“No,” Lewis and a number of the other board members answered immediately.
“We’ve discussed that with our attorney,” Chief Wherry said, and Lewis confirmed that this subject was something they had specifically talked to their counsel about.
ESD 3 Board President Keith Lewis said that details of what had prompted the board to talk to their lawyer specifically about the issue of someone being killed in a fire they refused to render or accept help with was not the public’s business.
“It’s private and confidential,” Lewis said.
And exactly when those concerns will be revealed to the public, and when the agreements will be restored, is still unclear.
“I don’t know,” Lewis said. “Hopefully, during the discussions about a regional mutual aid agreement, everyone will agree how individual fire scenes will be handled, and how the incident command will function, and hopefully … we can develop a workable approach to this.”
“I think as a taxpayer and citizen I’d rather hear about a productive meeting moving forward, versus issues still occurring or issues in the past,” Lieutenant Angela Hemphill said of the board’s decision to keep secret the specific reasons it has decided to stop observing the long-standing mutual aid agreements with Spring Branch.
“I think there is a misconception that all this is based off the e-mail that was sent out by [Bulverde Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief] Charlie Ivy,” said Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Assistant Chief Terry Coffee of a widely-circulated defamatory message about Spring Branch Fire Chief Eran Denzler. “All these are legitimate fire ground safety concerns we have that our officers have reported to us.”
“What people have to understand is that we have to send firefighters home to their wives and their kids,” Coffee said. “The fire service has changed over the [past] 20 years … It used to be there was an attitude that it was OK to sacrifice all and it was OK to die in a fire. But it’s not that way anymore … we have to look out for our firefighters.”
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Following is addenda to the chapter "Paying for It, Lying About It — And Getting Away With It," which appears in the "Sex" section of Texas Confidential. Page 48 begins with the words "of lying to the FBI and was fined $10,000 but did not receive prison time or even probation." When Secretary of Housing Henry Cisneros (shown below), the former mayor of San Antonio, lied to the FBI about money he paid his mistress, it caused him untold problems, tarnished a presidential administration, and cost the American taxpayers a lot of money. Following is the entirety of the first paragraph, with the missing words boldened.
The independent counsel’s investigation of Cisneros went on until December 1997, when — eleven months after his term as the head of HUD ended — he was indicted on eighteen charges, including conspiracy, making false statements, and obstruction of justice. In September 1999, he negotiated a plea agreement under which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI and was fined $10,000 but did not receive prison time or even probation. And some sixteen months later, in January 2001, Clinton pardoned his buddy as one of his last official acts in the Oval Office.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Officials in ironically-named Big Spring have begun construction on a $13 million water-reclamation plant that is the first of its kind in Texas and which will share its water with the cities of Midland, Odessa, and Stanton. While similar facilities have been built in other states throughout the southwest, their products have typically been used for landscaping and agriculture, rather than human consumption.
In response to to concerns from local residents, officials insist that the plant will produce water that is clean and safe to drink, and even say the water will taste better than the relatively brackish water people in the area have become accustomed to.
What would have been unacceptable in years past is becoming more palatable in direct proportion to how parched the region is. Faced with similar concerns, experts expect other U.S. communities to follow Texas over the coming years.
According to the Colorado River Municipal Water District, it actually began planning for the wastewater recycling plant in 2000 and finally began construction in July. When it is completed in late 2012 it is expected to produce some 2 million gallons of potable water a day.
Even this, however, might be a drop in the bucket, as the water supply for the local district is predicted by some to drop from 65 million gallons a day to 45 million gallons a day within a year.