Wednesday, April 26, 2017

JoAnn Hampton, Cameragate, and the Smith County Gestapo

 

I'm not angry with the Telegraph any more.


I've been in several relationships like this:  The other person does stupid stuff all the time, violates your trust, disappoints.  You're ready to throw in the towel and break it off.  Then your snookums does something wonderful and you're in love again.  That's how it is with the Telegraph and me.  Recently I've been railing against them for printing crap from the county's propagandist as if it were news and their lame support of a city council candidate.  Then yesterday they printed an editorial about the JoAnn Hampton arrest and the Cameragate videos that was spot-on.




First, the JoAnn Hampton situation.


 

Just for grins, here's the mugshot again:

This had been bumping around in my mind for a day or so, and I was going to comment on it, but the Telegraph beat me to the punch.  (You can't win 'em all.)  The sheriff had revealed that his people took an affidavit to a district court judge in Smith County who refused to sign a warrant and advised them to take it to an out-of-county court.  Yeah, I know, 'conflict of interest' and all.  But, dammit, this was just a warrant, not a full-blown trial.  We have prima facie evidence that the victim was injured, that Hampton caused the injury, and we have a statement from a reliable third-party who witnessed the incident.  So why can't we know who the judge was?  Could it be that His Honor is up for re-election this year and doesn't want the negative publicity?  And let's be real:  County commissioners hold the purse strings.  And if a judge pisses one of them off, that judge's court may risk not getting favorable treatment come election time.  Maybe so.  But if you don't have enough fortitude to do the right thing in light of the slight possibility that one single commissioner might try to get revenge, you have no business being a judge.  In other words, if you can't stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen!

And, yeah, I'm with the 'Graph when they ask why the sheriff can't tell us who the judge was.  He skeered, too?

No accountability.


Cameragate was a big money-grab after all.


Take a look at some of the comments that were made about the program during those illegal meetings :



Terry Phillips:  “I see it as more Big Brother...I’m struggling with it. I love the money - don’t get me wrong - I love me some money.”

And Jeff Warr:  “I may be on the selfish side because I’m kind of money-motivated by nature...We will be looking at a lot of money - I mean a bunch.”

And, of course, Joel Baker: “(Department heads) are placing demands on the Commissioners Court for millions of dollars...The public safety issue is the main attraction and that should be the main attraction, but practically, we need the revenue.”

Cary Nix and JoAnn Hampton expressed reservations, but in the end, THEY BOTH VOTED FOR IT!!!!!!!!


District Attorney Matt Bingham doesn't care.


The editorial author said it better than I could, so I don't really need to elaborate:

District Attorney Matt Bingham’s response to the release of the tapes on Monday - “I don’t care. I don’t care about it. The litigation is concluded” - is also unacceptable, because his office is responsible for upholding the law, whether it’s for a capital murder case or an open meetings violation. His assigned representative sat in on those meetings, and failed to ensure they were conducted properly. That buck stops with Bingham.


Smith County Gestapo


Ah, but the editorial writer pointed something out that I had not seen yet, because I haven't viewed all of the videos:


Commissioners routinely wandered off topic and onto matters that weren’t acceptable for an executive session and/or weren’t posted properly. For example, at one point Baker suggested creating a whole new county division, to serve as a law enforcement branch answerable to him (unlike the sheriff and constables, who answer to voters).
 
Ho-lee crap!  My initial thought was that maybe Baker was joking.  But then I got to thinking:  Baker was known to be a petulant bully.  He had already tasked Fire Marshall Jay Brooks with the job of overseeing the illegal speeding camera program because the sheriff wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.  And there is good reason to believe that in 2014 Baker had enlisted the help of his friends in the Tyler Police Department to get revenge on his political opponent by concocting the whole  "Great Campaign Sign Caper" case. So it isn't too far fetched to think that Baker would have liked to have a crew of uniformed, gun-toting thugs at his command.  What's really scary about this is that if Grassroots wouldn't have pushed for prosecution for Baker's TOMA violations, and if he had not been caught sexting while he was supposed to be on official business...Baker would still be in office!  And history has shown us that, had Baker pursued such a plan, the clownishioners would have rubber-stamped it.



I guess Baker would have wanted to choose the uniforms, too.

 

Who knows what might have happened if Baker had some kind of little praetorian guard at his disposal?  I'm imagining a platoon of Baker's Staatspolizei busting down my door in the middle of the night, storming in and arresting me and charging me for God only knows what, and I disappear into the night...

...Or maybe just to the Smith County jail.


And worst of all, they are going to spend more money on Cameragate!


I've tried to be patient with Judge Nathaniel Moran, because I know he has a hard row to hoe.  But he and the clownishioners have decided to seek a mandamus order or a ruling from a higher court to determine whether the judges order to release the videos is valid.  Moran's argument seems to be that in order to avoid prosecution for further TOMA violations (for releasing records from legally closed meetings) we need confirmation that the original judge's order is valid.  Okay, but Judge Moran...If the higher court rules that the order was not valid and the recordings have already been released...Doesn't that leave you and the clownishioners in a worse position than you started with?!  But, worst of all?  They have already hired the Potter-Minton law firm to represent them in this matter.  That means the taxpayers are yet again going to have to foot the bill to clean up after the clownishioners.  How much are we going to spend on this?  Another $40,000 or so?

Like the editorial said, no accountability.  And yeah, I say it all the time, but VOTE THE BUMS OUT!!!

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