Friday, March 23, 2018

Why did Baylor's Title IX Coordinator Resign LESS THAN THREE WEEKS after latest accusation?!?

"Abstain from all appearance of evil."
1 Thessalonians 5:22

November 12, 2017:
Three Baylor football players have been suspended from the team because of allegations of sexual assault involving football players and female members of the university's equestrian team, a university official confirmed to ESPN.

At a Wednesday news conference, Bears coach Matt Rhule named four players who were suspended and would not be participating in spring practice. They included three redshirt freshmen, John Arthur, Justin Harris and Tre'von Lewis, as well as sophomore Eric Ogor.


It is unknown whether those three players also are among the four alleged suspects named in a police report regarding the alleged incident. According to a Baylor University Police Department incident report obtained by Outside the Lines, two female Baylor students told police that they were sexually assaulted at University Parks Apartments in Waco, Texas, during the early-morning hours of Nov. 12, only hours after Baylor lost to Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
November 17, 2017 (same article linked above):
The two women reported the incident to Baylor police on Nov. 17, according to the report.

The identities of the four alleged suspects, who were each identified as students, and six witnesses (three students and three faculty/staff members) were redacted. The alleged victims were identified by the pseudonyms "Jane Doe" and "Donna Smith."

In a March 2 letter to Texas attorney general Ken Paxton, an attorney representing the university wrote that the alleged victims initially reported the incident to Baylor equestrian coach Casie Maxwell, who made a report and forwarded it to the university's Title IX office, Clery Act specialist Shelley Deats and Baylor police chief Brad Wigtil. The letter was sent as part of the school's response to a public records act request by Outside the Lines.
December 7, 2017:
Baylor University Title IX Coordinator Kirstan Tucker has resigned from her position effective Jan. 2, the university announced Thursday.

Sources with direct knowledge of the situation told KWTX earlier that Tucker has been out of the office for about a month.

Baylor declined comment in response to questions earlier this week about her job status. have another incident with the Football team on November 12th.  The Title IX office learns about it on November 17th.  Then the Title IX coordinator suddenly resigns on December 7th.

Also: What's up with her having "been out of the office for about a month" in the middle of all this?!?

Finally, keep in mind that the three week period in question includes Thanksgiving, so it seems unlikely any work was done then.

Alrighty then.

Bottom Line: When an institution has squandered every last bit of benefit of the doubt, how can you not assume the worst?!?

Cornyn's RUSHED, UNVETTED, Process Poisons Gun Debate

"Every one of the builders had his sword girded at his side as he built. And the one who sounded the trumpet was beside me."
Nehemiah 4:18

The spending bill Congress passed this week is awful for any number of reasons, but one particular act of perfidy from John Cornyn stands out: Nobody had a chance to read the legislative language on the gun part.

We've written previously about how, whatever the merits (or lack thereof) of any legislative proposal, our general lack of trust in John Cornyn meant we also didn't trust him on this topic.  This is why.  When someone who has repeatedly demonstrated their lack of trustworthiness makes a policy change of this magnitude with this much secrecy, you have no choice but to assume the worst.

It's a shame.

Nobody objects to keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.  Natural Law 101 dictates that the only time it's ok to infringe upon an individual's rights is when they are a threat to other people.  But doing so requires a narrowly-tailored mechanism that focuses on dangerous individuals.  It also requires an effective mechanism.  Unfortunately, government at every level has failed to do this in the past, and we have no reason to believe they will do better in the future.  Only a fool would give more power to the same government that has repeatedly failed.  That's how "keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals" morphs into "disarming innocent civilians."

To actually keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals, you need very precise legislative language.  You need a team of lawyers to vet that language for unintended consequences.  You also need very significant reforms to various bureaucracies at various levels of government.  Then, you need an open and transparent process to present the proposal to the public.  None of that happened.  Instead, you had a last-minute cramdown that will lead to who knows what unintended consequences.  And we have John Cornyn to thank for the whole mess.

Again, it's a shame.

Bottom Line: Nobody objects to keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.  But people rightly object to disarming innocent civilians.  Unfortunately, given both John Cornyn's record and the optics of this week's process, nobody can blame Texans for assuming the worst.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#TXLEGE: Booze Lobby gets a little weaker....

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

The professional booze lobby is one of the more obnoxious special interests at the Capitol [Note: Especially considering how certain legislators seem to love their product], so the following development is welcome:
A protectionist Texas law that has kept Walmart, Costco and other giant retailers from selling hard liquor was found unconstitutional by a federal judge this week, prompting cheers from free-market advocates — and vows of a quick appeal from one of the parties on the losing side.

The Texas law that was struck down — unique in the United States — forbids publicly traded businesses from owning liquor stores while allowing family-owned companies to grow into giant chains without fear of competition from large national or international corporations.

If the late Tuesday ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman survives appeals, Texas consumers — like those in at least 31 other states and many foreign countries — will be able to buy vodka, tequila and bourbon from Walmart-owned stores and from other multinational retailer outlets.

“For decades, these laws have stood in stark contrast to Texas values,” said Travis Thomas, spokesman for Texans for Consumer Freedom, which advocates for free-market reforms in Texas. “The State of Texas should not pick winners and losers in private industry.”
This case is all sorts of fascinating (if somewhat complicated) from a legal perspective.  From a political perspective, however, it's an unambiguous win.  One of the most entrenched special interests at the Capitol will be significantly weakened, and Wal-Mart is footing the bill.  At a minimum, however many millions of dollars the booze lobby spends fighting this lawsuit are millions of dollars they can't spend lobbying the legislature.

Bottom Line: Whatever resources the booze lobby has to pour into defending this flank are resources they won't have elsewhere....

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#TXLEGE: "Occupation Licencing" scourge means people in debt CAN'T WORK to pay off debt

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

"Occupation Licensing" laws are bad enough on the merits. They restrict competition and increase consumer prices, while doing nothing to promote the specious "public safety" grounds on which they are so frequently justified.  But the Trib reports on a detail of how those laws are enforced in Texas that boggles the mind:
Texas is among several states that bars teachers, dentists, nurses and other professional license holders from renewing their licenses if they are in default on their student loans.

The ban was designed to push people to pay off their debt — or face the consequences. But even in Texas, a state that holds more than $70 billion of the country’s $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans, critics call the practice counterproductive since it can impede people's ability to work and make it even harder for them to pay back their debt.

There is no comprehensive source of data on how frequently this happens in Texas. Records from multiple organizations and agencies suggest more than 4,215 people in the state – including security guards, cosmetologists and pharmacists – were at risk of losing their license because of student loan default in 2017.

Since 2010, 530 nurses were unable to renew their licenses because they were in default on their student loans, according to information provided to The Texas Tribune through a public information request. And nearly 250 teachers, like Scott, had an application for a license renewal denied for this reason over the course of five years, data from the Texas Education Agency shows.
This is obscene (seriously, do read the whole Trib article to learn how this law has impacted several people).  Governor Abbott should call a special session to remedy this situation, and the relevant legislation should clear the two chambers 181-0.  That obviously won't happen, but this needs to be addressed next session.

Bottom Line: Texas really should eliminate occupation licensing entirely.  But, at a minimum, this 'enforcement mechanism' needs to go.  The idea that people who are behind on student loan debts can be prohibited from working to pay off those debts is bonkers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Uresti fine illustrates Texas "Ethics" Commission's Mendacity

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

Via the indispensable Olivia Messer:
The Texas state senator who has refused to step down, despite 11 felony convictions and several groping allegations, has been fined just $500 in civil penalties by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Democratic State Sen. Carlos Uresti will be sentenced in June on the fraud and money-laundering charges after he was found guilty on all counts related to a Ponzi scheme involving now-defunct frac-sand company FourWinds Logistics. Uresti worked as general counsel for the company.

The Ethics Commission announced on Friday that it found credible evidence the lawmaker failed to appropriately report a $40,000 promissory note from FourWinds to his own personal-injury law firm.

At his federal trial, prosecutors successfully argued that Uresti “groomed” $900,000 of “blood money” out of a grieving mother and former client by manipulating her through a sexual relationship. He convinced her to invest nearly all of the money she won in her childrens’ wrongful-death suit in the company, losing almost the whole sum. (Uresti has repeatedly denied that he had any sexual relationship with the woman. His wife filed for divorce earlier this month.)
Isn't that typical.  You have an actual elected official, with an actual criminal conviction, and the Texas "Ethics" Commission slaps him on the wrist with a $500 fine.  Meanwhile, if a citizens group challenges the Capitol status quo, they're subjected to a four year legal nightmare.

Bottom Line: The treatment of Carlos Uresti, compared to the treatment of Empower Texans, tells you everything you need to know about the so-called Texas "Ethics" Commission.


Note: This is also why you don't want the TEC investigating sexual misconduct charges.

Monday, March 19, 2018

UT Makes Tuition Hike We Predicted Official

"I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."
Deuteronomy 18:18

Not surprising, but still:
With few questions, the system’s Board of Regents voted unanimously Monday to up the cost of tuition and fees at each college they oversee by up to 8.5 percent for in-state undergraduates. Most schools will see increases in the 1 percent to 7 percent range – adding hundreds of additional dollars to students’ tuition bills each year.

The hikes range from 0.1 percent for in-state undergraduates at the University of Texas at San Antonio to 8.5 percent for students at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. The new rates will be in place for the fall 2018 semester, with another increase set to take effect the following academic year.

Asked why the Permian Basin campus' requested increases are higher than the other schools', President Sandra Woodley said the institution is "playing catch up" and currently has "really, really low" tuition costs. The raise is needed, she said, to help the campus achieve some "economies of scale."

Texan undergraduates at the system’s flagship UT-Austin campus would face a 2 percent tuition hike next fall under the proposed increase – equaling about $200 extra each year. Out-of-state students would pay about $700 more.
Obviously, this is exactly what we told the Texas Senate would happen if they approved the last round of regent nominees.  Then they approved the afore mentioned regents.  So here we are....

Furthermore, if you're wondering why they're keeping McRaven around until May, this was why.  It allows McRaven to be the fall guy for this tuition hike, while the incoming chancellor gets to blame the old administration next session.  It makes one wonder what other awful acts they have planned during the final 10 weeks of a lame duck chancellor.

That being said, on a certain level you do have to hand it to UT.  Not only did they wait until two weeks after the primary, but they also chose a day where Capitol watchers were preoccupied by the school finance commission, while the city has its hands full with the bombings.  LOL, such a UT thing to do.

Bottom Line: We told the Texas Senate so.  We told the Texas Senate so.  We told the Texas Senate so.

#TXLEGE: Tedious school finance commission slogs forward

"For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense,
But the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it."
Ecclesiastes 7:12

We spent this morning at the hearing for the Texas Commission on Public School Finance.  The commission moved extremely slowly, to the point where they still had a couple of hours of invited testimony left when they broke for lunch.  We didn't feel like waiting around any longer, so will state our thoughts here.

The fundamental reality of education policy in Texas, at the moment, is stalemate.  The Texas house wants to pour more money into the status quo (while lying about the tax impact).  The Senate wants to empower parents and students by moving to a funding model where the money follows the student.

Neither side has the votes in the other chamber to pass what they really want to do.  But both sides have sufficient votes in their own chamber to block the other.  The recent primary results, while modestly favorable, don't change that fundamental dynamic.  Therefore: Stalemate.

Given this reality, it seems prudent to scale back our ambitions.  Nobody's going to get what they really want, but if people can set aside thier egos, we might be able to get something less bad than the status quo.  Thus we would suggest something along the lines of modest increases in state funding accompanied by structural reforms making the existing system less bureaucratic along with a "rate compression" for local taxpayers.

Increasing state funding while "compressing" local school tax rates would begin the transition from property taxes to a consumption based tax.  This would be a good first step towards the Republican Party of Texas' long-term goal to completely eliminate property taxes.  The key is that you must insist upon a dollar-for-dollar cut at the local level for every dollar of increased spending you have at the state level.  Furthermore, if the state were to increase it's share of the total tab, it could keep the ISD's (with all of their various misdeeds) on a shorter leash.

As for making the EXISTING system less bureaucratic, there are any number of ways that can be accomplished.  But it's non-negotiable.  Any potentinial increase in spending at the state level needs to go into the classroom, NOT the bureaucracy.

Bottom Line: Given the reality of current vote counts, this sort of scaled-down proposal is the only productive thing that can pass.  But a productive conversation requires a partner.  If the status quo crowd wants to help devise a less-bad system, great.  But if the stalemate continues, we intend to use next session to make them radioactive by the time 2020 rolls around.


Given the amount of illegal electioneering in which the ISD's engaged this past cycle, any school finance bill that the legislature might pass ought to include sanctions for that sort of activity; an automatic 20% cut in state funding for ISD's that engage in that sort of behavior would stop it REALLY quick.