legislature (3)



The militarization of our local police forces continues, and as local law enforcement gets their hands on high-grade, weaponized and war-ready equipment, an authoritarian streak goes right along with it.

The sheriff of Erie County, New York, told the State Legislature it was none of their damn business how they use their high-tech cellphone “sniffers” to spy on Americans.

POLL: Does the US legal system need to be reformed?

Timothy B. Howard told a committee the “Stingray Tracking Device” his department has owned for six years wasn’t being used to tap into citizen’s phone conversations, but only for tracking their movement. And that’s all he would say. The Erie County Sheriff’s Department received the device – and other surveillance equipment – from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as part of an ongoing effort to supply local law enforcement with high-grade military equipment.

He wouldn’t tell the elected officials about the scope of the device’s capabilities, how well it worked or how many times his department has used it.

With no disrespect to this honorable body … the specific use of the device should be left to the monitoring of the courts and not to the Legislature or to the media,” he said.

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4063893867?profile=originalHOUSTON — Some of the least-qualified graduates of the University of Texas School of Law in recent years have high-level connections in the Legislature, which may explain how they got into the prestigious law school in the first place.

A months-long Watchdog.org analysis of political influence on the admissions process at UT Law found there’s some truth, after all, to the old line about who you know mattering more than what you know. We found dozens of Longhorns who don’t know enough to be lawyers but know somebody important in the Legislature.

Two of those mediocre students are legislators themselves.

Some have connections to the leadership circle of House Speaker Joe Straus, others to powerful state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, who’s already been caught three times trying to pull end runs around the admissions process.

Wallace Hall, a University of Texas regent, cited dozens of emails and letters that he obtained in a records review to support claims that some members of the Legislature abused their positions to influence admissions decisions.

Barely two weeks after Hall began his investigation of influence peddling last June, the Legislature launched proceedings to impeach him. The correspondence Hall saw has been kept from the public, as have the conclusions of an inquiry into favoritism conducted by Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

This Watchdog.org review of the record is meant to shine the available light on a process shrouded in secrecy by education privacy laws and by top school officials reluctant to embarrass powerful politicians, some of whom happen to be their friends.

Watchdog.org found a pattern of overlapping political influence and underwhelming performance on the bar exam. Any single one of the cases we describe could have an alternate explanation, such as personal problems that derailed studies.

Taken as a whole, however, they offer clear evidence that political influence is the reason dozens of students who are unable to pass the bar are getting into the state’s top law school.

Wherever it’s possible to tell this story without using the names of people who are one or two degrees removed from public life, we’ll do so, for reasons of privacy. We will provide a complete list of names to any university official interested in a review.

Until now, the most striking piece of evidence for the favoritism charge is the result of the February 2014 bar exam, published by the state Board of Law Examiners. UT is usually near the top of the list, with a passage rate for first time takers of about 95 percent. In February, UT’s 59 percent pass rate was dead last in Texas.

That could be a fluke. But we’ve found two dozen reasons to think it’s not.

Read more at: http://watchdog.org/144169/ut-law-school-hookups/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Watchdog%20Newsletter

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osted by Rajjpuut's Folly on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:20:22 PM

Hopefully, the next congress and all the congresses to come will reinstitute integrity into the House and Senate. Over the years Rajjpuut has received numerous e-mails dealing with the subject of congressional term limits. The last suggestions were pretty decent . . . so with a few deft adjustments, here is Rajjpuut’s . . . .
Term Limits and Political Reform Act**
for 2011

I. Term Limits:
President ten years maximum (for example: maximum two years during the term of a deceased president + two full four-year presidential terms.
Congress twelve years maximum, for example:

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms
D. Some other combination

2. No Tenure / No Pension for most politicians.
A Congressman collects a salary only while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office except those serving a full dozen years who would get a pension the equivalent of 1/20 of what a 20 year congressman now receives.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. In the case of the 12-year congressmen, they are entitled to double-dip.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer be allowed to vote itself a pay raise. During inflationary years (they create inflation) congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI increase or +2% deviation.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts (including pensions) with past and present Congressmen are null and void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves therefore they are against the spirit of the Constitution.
9. On the positive side, the congress will have much more time off and time to visit with their constituents because, while true “emergency” sessions can be called, the congress will meet for only 90 days each year and be a part-time entity much like the original design of a part-time legislature by the Founding Fathers.

Ya'll live long, strong and ornery,


**Actually Rajjpuut would prefer that a constitutional amendment be passed, if necessary by petitions within the American people, if the congress hasn’t the integrity to do it by itself (and require ratification by the American people).
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