State police now fingerprinting every Texan « Watchdog.org

What’s is going on over in Texas?  I thought they were the last bastion of true freedom and liberty.  It is starting to look like the rest of the former USA…

By Jon Cassidy | Watchdog.org

HOUSTON – The Texas Department of Public Safety has quietly embarked on a project to take the fingerprints of every Texan old enough to drive over the next 12 years, and add them to a statewide criminal history database.

Not only has the department made that momentous decision on its own, it doesn’t even have clear legal authority to do so.

The credit for breaking the news on those two items goes to consumer affairs columnist Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News, whose long-running “Watchdog” column often shows up in my Google Alerts, for obvious reasons.

As an old-school columnist, Lieber tends to keep his opinions subdued, and he doesn’t generally call people dishonest. But I have no problem with doing that, so I’d like to point out that the DPS spokesman he quotes at length is less than straightforward about his department’s legal authority.

Last month, Lieber broke the news that DPS had started collecting full sets of fingerprints on everyone who went in to renew their license.

Friday, he followed up with a story on DPS’ dubious legal authority to do so, and then posted lengthy quotations on the issue to his blog.

Lieber quotes an entire email from DPS spokesman Tom Vinger, who quotes Transportation Code Sec. 521.059 at length, including the key phrase, “The department shall establish an image verification system based on the following identifiers collected by the department: ….an applicant’s thumbprints or fingerprints.”

So clearly, the law contemplates the collection of fingerprints under some circumstance, but the passage quoted by Vinger doesn’t mention anything else about it.

via State police now fingerprinting every Texan « Watchdog.org.

New EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants could cost Mississippi billions « Watchdog.org

This is just for Mississippi, similar increases are expected for Louisiana.  With gasoline already going up to unknown levels and now these proposed regulations adding 20 – 30% to your power bill, no one will be able to afford to eat.  Oh yeah, grocery prices have already gone up and how much do you think the hike in electric and fuel costs will add to your grocery bill?  It’s all got to be refrigerated and shipped to the grocery store on a truck….

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

The cost for Mississippi to meet proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations governing carbon dioxide emissions from coal power plants could run into the billions.

Guess who’ll be footing the tab? Everyone who pays an electric bill.

The proposed regulations, which were released in June, would force Mississippi to reduce its carbon emissions by 38 percent in 2030 from 2005 levels under the formula, which differs for each state. Mississippi received about 13 percent of its electric generation capability from coal-fired plants in 2013 while the United States received 37 percent of its power from coal. Most of Mississippi’s electrical capacity comes from natural gas (72 percent)…

via New EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants could cost Mississippi billions « Watchdog.org.

Uncle Sams Misguided Children – EPA Taking 600,000 acres of farmland in Maryland

I foresee a problem with this policy, who is going to grow our food?

 

The cover story is this: if they remove crops from production, if they reduce the number of cattle on the land, there will be less pollution, and everything will become “resilient” or “sustainable.”

via Uncle Sams Misguided Children – EPA Taking 600,000 acres of farmland in Maryland.

Generous retirement benefit boost slipped into bill for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson on last day of legislative session | Louisiana Voice

Regular cops that put in their time get screwed at this guy’s expense.  I guess it’s just corrupt business as usual in Louisiana politics.

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“Generous retirement benefit boost slipped into bill for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson on last day of legislative session”

July 11, 2014 by tomaswell

“You’ve seen him standing solemnly (never smiling) in the background at virtually each of those rare Jindal press conferences as well as during the governor’s staccato briefings whenever he pretended to exhibit leadership, usually during a hurricane or oil spill.

One of those events may have even been when the governor pitched his ill-fated state pension reform legislation a couple of years ago that, had it succeeded, would have slashed retirement income for thousands of state employees—by as much as 85 percent for some.

But the next time you see Louisiana State Police Commander Mike Edmonson, you may see a trace of a smile crack that grim veneer.

That’s because a special amendment to an obscure Senate bill, passed on the last day of the recent legislative session, will put an additional $30,000 per year in Edmonson’s pocket upon retirement.

Talk about irony.

SB 294, signed into law by Jindal as Act 859, was authored by Sen. Jean-Paul J. Morrell (D-New Orleans) and appeared to deal with procedures for formal, written complaints made against police officers.

There was nothing in the wording of the original bill that would attract undue attention.

Until, that is, the bill turned up in Conference Committee at the end of the session so that an agreement between the different versions adopted in the House and Senate could be worked out. At least that was the way it appeared.”

via Generous retirement benefit boost slipped into bill for State Police Col. Mike Edmonson on last day of legislative session | Louisiana Voice.

Militarized America: The United States of SWAT | Columbia Daily Herald

Here’s today’s WTF!?!? moment.  Department of Education has a SWAT team?  To investigate fraud?  Wouldn’t an accountant be better at something like that?

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“A SWAT team from, believe it or not, the U.S. Department of Education, battered down his door and handcuffed him for two hours. They were looking for incriminating evidence on his estranged wife whom they suspected of college financial aid fraud.”

via Militarized America: The United States of SWAT | Columbia Daily Herald.

Killer Ride: Federal sources say van designed to kill – CBS46 News

Hey NOLa!  When y’all gonna straighten out down there?  I’m starting to get scared to come visit.

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) -

A traffic stop led officers to a bizarre discovery. It happened on a quiet area of Old Metairie two months ago.

According to a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office report, a deputy received a tip about two men driving a van with a stolen license plate. He spotted the van driving on Metairie Road and followed it to a home in the 200 block of E. William David Parkway. The report states that as the deputy approached the van, he saw both the passenger and the driver exit the vehicle.

While the stop was for a stolen license plate, the report details that Jefferson Parish deputies found much more. The van was more than it seemed at first glance.

“This is a classic unsophisticated vehicle that can be used for assassination,” said James Bernazzani, a retired FBI special agent.

via Killer Ride: Federal sources say van designed to kill – CBS46 News.

The news just keeps getting worse for Supt. of Ed. John White; State Auditor investigating possible payroll fraud | Louisiana Voice

Wow, I got what I asked for!  I guess I need to read all the blogs instead of just hoping for action from the State.  It seems Governor Jindal is taking this matter a little more serious than I expected.

 

The news just keeps getting worse for Superintendent of Education John White.

Gov. Bobby Jindal has put White on a short leash with Executive Order BJ 2014-7 on June 18 and last Wednesday (June 25) Internal Audit Administrator Marsha Guidry issued an extensive laundry list of documents information relating to the Department of Education’s (DOE) contract with Data Recognition Corp.

At the same time, LouisianaVoice has learned the Legislative Auditor’s office is conducting an investigation of DOE that could involve payroll fraud, according to sources inside the department.

White, as we have reported several times in the past, has loaded up the department with unclassified appointments at bloated six-figure salaries.

There are apparently three major problems with that:

via The news just keeps getting worse for Supt. of Ed. John White; State Auditor investigating possible payroll fraud | Louisiana Voice.

Did LDOE hire 100 summer Interns at 25,000 a piece? | Crazy Crawfish’s Blog

It looks to me that Louisiana’s Department of Education needs a deep investigative enema from the AG’s office.  But since this seems to be normal practice for most of the State government I’m sure nothing will happen.  And we wonder why our State is always competing with Mississippi for last place in US education ratings (oh look, we’ve moved up to 48 & 49 out of 51).

 

These interns are but the latest example of how John White has turned our state into a training ground for the national reform movement on Louisiana’s dime. Every year John White takes on “fellows” and assistant superintendents he recruits from the New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and other reform organizations. These employees rarely show up for work, have no assigned responsibilities which is why you will never see an up to date phone list with any of these six figured salaried folks listed. These specific interns are reportedly making 25 thousand dollars for 2 months of work. At this rate of pay they are being paid the equivalent of 150,000 per year per intern in just base salary, which is far more than just about any employee earns but John White. I’m guessing that these “interns” have not even finished college yet I wouldn’t have to guess if they weren’t violating the law by refusing to release details, but they are earning 6 figure salary equivalents, and John White is refusing to acknowledge their existence or what their responsibilities are, just as he does for most of his entourage that recycles regularly throughout the department upper echelons. Even more tragic and infuriating, John White is spending all this money at a time when teacher’s pay has been stagnant for 3 or more years, most public employees from this state especially LDOE have not received a pay raise in 4 or more years and many districts are facing bankruptcy as a direct result of his unfunded mandates and policies.

via Did LDOE hire 100 summer Interns at 25,000 a piece? | Crazy Crawfish’s Blog.

Oil-by-rail shipment numbers push North Dakota officials to call for pipelines « Watchdog.org

Shipping oil by train is the least safe way to do it.  I think the only way worse is by truck.  A nice steel pipeline buried underground won’t explode in the middle of a town or derail and spill in a river.

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By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

CHANGE COMING: An explosive oil train derailment near Casselton, located in North Dakota’s Cass County, pushed oil by rail shipments into national headlines.

FARGO, N.D. — An explosive oil train derailment in Casselton and similar incidents across the nation, have thrust oil-by-rail shipments into headlines.

Now, an order from the federal Department of Transportation requires rail companies to disclose how many oil shipments per week they’re sending through each county in the country.

In North Dakota it is Cass County, the state’s most populous area and home to both Casselton and Fargo, that is seeing the most shipments.

 

In June, more than 40 oil trains per week, averaging a mile long and pulling an average of 3 million gallons of oil, moved through the county. That’s nearly six oil trains per day, each carrying more than 95,000 barrels of oil.

 

On any given day, more than half of North Dakota’s celebrated 1 million barrels per day of oil output is shipped by rail through the state’s most populous county. Overall, more than 70 percent of North Dakota’s oil output is pulled to market by trains.

via Oil-by-rail shipment numbers push North Dakota officials to call for pipelines « Watchdog.org.

Ride-sharing companies fight New Mexico regulators « Watchdog.org

God forbid we have a level playing field.  That could affect campaign contributions…  [His words below, I added the bold.]

 

“Regulations are meant to protect consumers, not create a mythical ‘level playing field,’ “said Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Albuquerque. “If taxis aren’t competitive with Lyft and Uber, then the obvious thing to do is reform regulations to help them compete, not to force Lyft and Uber to adhere to onerous regulations.”

via Ride-sharing companies fight New Mexico regulators « Watchdog.org.

Darrell Issa subpoenas 28 years worth of Lois Lerner’s communications, dating back to her time with the FEC | America’s Watchtower

Darrell Issa subpoenas 28 years worth of Lois Lerner’s communications, dating back to her time with the FEC

JUNE 25, 2014

Today House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned up the heat on Lois Lerner and subpoenaed 28 years of Lerner’s emails from 1986 until the present day.
Political Ticker reported:

Expanding his IRS investigation by more than two decades, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, has sent a subpoena to the Federal Elections Commission for all communications involving former IRS administrator Lois Lerner from January 1, 1986 to the present day.

This new search is the broadest-yet for records in a year-long investigation by Issa and congressional Republicans, who are trying to assess why the agency targeted tea party and other political groups for extra scrutiny.

Issa issued the subpoena to Lee Goodman, head of the Federal Election Commission, on Tuesday for communications involving Lerner, who is seen as a central figure in the controversy because she ran the division that executed the targeting.

  What are the chances these communications still exist? Still, I like to think that Lois Lerner is experiencing many sleepless nights right about now.

via Darrell Issa subpoenas 28 years worth of Lois Lerner’s communications, dating back to her time with the FEC | America’s Watchtower.

Lawyers say man freed after wrongful conviction is tip of the iceberg | wwltv.com New Orleans

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

Email: mhernandez@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

 

NEW ORLEANS – A local man has been released after serving 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Nathan Brown was convicted of an attempted rape outside his Metairie apartment building in 1997, but recent DNA testing of the victim’s dress exonerated him.

 

“Just glad to be free, I just thank God for it, and I just want to move on with my life,” said Brown.

Brown’s lawyers say his case is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

The Innocence Project New Orleans is working with dozens of other Louisiana inmates who say they were wrongfully convicted. Thousands more are waiting for help.

 

The Innocence Project is a non-profit, pro-bono law office aimed at freeing innocent prisoners like Brown. Since it began in New York in 1992, local, independent offices have popped up all over the country, including one in New Orleans. It works closely with the original office in New York.

via Lawyers say man freed after wrongful conviction is tip of the iceberg | wwltv.com New Orleans.

State Marijuana Laws Map

Twenty one, almost half the States.  Some of them with very large population centers.

Prohibition of liquor failed, the people did not want it.  A lot of lives were ruined back then because of the laws and a lot of criminals made a LOT of money.  Money that should have gone in to the legal economy and tax rolls.  Criminal gangs started up and were better financed than the cops.  This caused escalations on the police side and soon it was more like a war than law enforcement (sound familiar?), all for a law no one really wanted anyway.

Do we not learn from our own history?

war on drugs

It’s not the square miles, it’s the number of people.

 

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form.

So far, only Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while other states permit medical marijuana.

Most recently, Maryland lawmakers approved bills making medical marijuana accessible to patients and decriminalizing possession of limited amounts of the drug.

Illinois has legalized medical marijuana with a law establishing a pilot program set to be implemented in January.

In some states, criminal penalties have been eliminated for small amounts of marijuana.

via State Marijuana Laws Map.

There are already news reports of marijuana farmers switching to poppy because there is not as much of a market for illegal pot – 2 states legal, 19 others partially legal. That puts a hurting on the gangs and drug lords, take away their market & the states get to keep the profits.  

Police budgets can be cut leaving more money for other projects.  Prison budgets can be cut, lives don’t need to be ruined, families don’t need to be broken apart.

That’s not even counting the revenue to the states for the taxes placed on the marijuana.  I cannot understand why the States haven’t looked at the amount of money they will still control (from the budget cuts) plus the increases from the sales of the pot and jumped on board a long time ago.

Like other issues, I guess it comes down to one thing – control.  Governments don’t like to give up their power and their power comes from controlling people, not from a truly free people.

Relief for man released after 17 years on wrongful conviction | wwltv.com New Orleans

This is why I no longer support the death penalty.  DA’s that just want a conviction, right or wrong, and cops that will lie to get their bosses off their backs.  Witnesses that don’t really know what happened but get their face on TV just for testifying.  Not to mention the potential for abuse by the “good ol’ boy” club, I’m sure there has been a few people railroaded thru the system to either keep the quiet or just get rid of them. Until someone convinces me that all of the above has been taken care of I will not trust the government to take the life of a citizen.

 

wwltv.com

Posted on June 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Updated today at 5:23 PM

 

Thanh Truong / Eyewitness News

 

NEW ORLEANS — Nathan Brown embraced his daughter for the first time outside prison walls. She introduced him to his grandson, born while Brown served 17 years of a 25-year sentence for rape.

via Relief for man released after 17 years on wrongful conviction | wwltv.com New Orleans.