Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guest Post: Speaking Up for the "Average Voter"


From Our Friend, Spunk:

Apparently Brian Rogers and certain bloggers would like everyone to believe that the DA's race is really only about issues of concern to a small group of courthouse detractors which only courthouse insiders would understand. That message is insulting to the "average voter" because the "average voters" are not receiving full and accurate coverage in the main stream media as to what is really going on at the criminal justice center and in the DA's Office under Lykos, and also because the point Brian Rogers on behalf of the Houston Chronicle is seeking to make is predicated on selective, incomplete and downright false information, which is exactly the way one would behave who doesn't care at all what else Lykos does, as long as she maintains her light handed policies on the death penalty.
Wasn't one of the first of Lykos' "accomplishments" in the last 3 + years as DA to join forces with the Chronicle to basically lobby the Texas Legislature to help successfully pass some sort of "Journalist -Shield" law?  Where is the story on this? Not one other DA in Texas joined Lykos in this unprecedented endeavor. I believe I also heard that she hired someone from outside the DA's office to accompany and assist  Asst. DA Kevin Petroff in Austin during that legislative session.  No one reading this should assume she went to this kind of effort and publicly exposure on this on this issue without first getting something big in return.  This is just an early example of one of many instances of "the appearance of impropriety" to which she has either been a party directly or which she has indirectly approved.  The Chronicle now owes her every benefit of the doubt, and therefore will always work toward covering DA news in a light most favorable to her.  Add to this the simple but not widely known fact that although DA Pat Lykos calls herself a conservative Republican, she is, in practice, the most lenient DA in Harris County history on seeking the death penalty on defendants who are eligible for it, deserving of it and where evidence supports it.  Priorities being what they are, no wonder the liberal-leaning media such as the Chronicle is willing to forgive just about anything else she does or allows to be done in her name. No wonder Brian Rogers was so careful in his article on Easter Sunday to frame the issues involved in the DA race such that the "average voter" might not follow the real Lykos story, you know, to "[k]eep the interest low."               
So it was, in this light most favorable to Pat Lykos that only she was depicted in that article by way of a large color photograph of her at one of her many photo-ops.  Brian Rogers wrote about "2 grand juries at issue?" as if there is not yet a third formal criminal investigation which is still pending and for which yet a third special prosecutor has been appointed.  Instead the article reads as if the two grand jury terms, both of which have concluded, is the end of it, except for some insignificant report some of the grand jurors released, castigating the DA's Office and accusing "it" of investigating them. There is but a single comment comment, one line in length, about the on-going investigation by the Texas Rangers looking at whether Lykos' investigator used county resources "for a serious probe," leaving out that these county resources were being used in a retaliatory fashion against GRAND JURORS for having the audacity to investigate her operation in the first place.  Brian Rogers, don't you consider ANY type of investigation, ANY use of taxpayer resources, by a DA into the private lives of individual grand jurors who are at the time, investigating the DA's Office, SERIOUS? Can you at least agree with me that this scenario on its face reeks of an appearance of impropriety, worthy of public discussion?   So where is that in your article?
What Rogers did NOT say is that Pat Lykos caused this 3rd pending criminal investigation herself.  He did NOT write that she initially lied to the public in a press conference she called herself about whether she was aware that her own investigator was investigating grand jurors who were at the time, investigating her.  Rogers did NOT say that on the very next day she released a statement admitting, in so many words, that yes, she did initiate the investigation into the personal lives of grand jurors and others surrounding the issue. Rogers did NOT explain why is this so egregious. He could have explained that  Grand juries are independent fact finding bodies.  That grand juries are not beholden to anyone, and that includes the District Attorney.  That they are composed of citizens in the community, some just like the "average voter."  That they should never be made to feel threatened, intimidated, watched, followed or photographed for doing what they are sworn by oath to do and they deserve to be protected from those who seek to retaliate against them for their service to the public.  That this kind of behavior undermines the objectivity of the grand jury process as a whole and has a chilling effect on the willingness of citizens to serve on grand juries.  And that above all, the very worst part of this particular situation is that Brian Rogers failed to say that the DA herself, Patricia Ann Lykos, approved, condoned and by her own admission even directed that this intimidation be carried out on members of a grand jury. What about this would the "average voter" not understand?  Society as a whole is and has been for decades, familiar with what a "mobster's mentality" is. The "average voter" gets it. 
With no figures published yet, how is it that Rogers seems to know that Lykos is "raising more" and "spending more" money, presumably than Mike Anderson?  According to who?  And Rogers made only a scant comment about the remarkable fact that long-time former DA Johnny Holmes has endorsed Mike Anderson.  The "average voter" in Harris County damned sure knows who Mr. John B. Holmes, Jr. is because "average voters" elected him 4 times if I am counting properly and they listen closely to what this honorable servant of the public has to say.  Rogers did not elaborate on this significance of the endorsement by this "high-ranking Republican" of Mike Anderson.  This is a man who was the "average voter's" elected DA for 22 years and would still be today if he had not decided to retire.  Rogers also did not mention other key endorsements which would normally go to a Republican incumbent which Mike Anderson now holds, such as the Link Letter endorsement, the Hotze endorsement, and both major police union endorsements. Be honest, does Brian Rogers, his Democrat strategist and his Rice University professor really believe that all this shifting away from Lykos truly means that nobody is paying attention to the DA's race?   
And instead of civil injunctions against apartment complexes, why didn't Brian Rogers even mention the fact that one of Lykos' current employees, Rachel Palmer, asserted her 5th amendment right (as an ordinary citizen, but not so much as a prosecutor sworn to see that justice is done) not to incriminate herself by refusing to answer a grand jury's questions under oath and thereby probably protecting Palmer herself, or Lykos, or both from being indicted in the process?  Where is the story of this appearance of impropriety, of harboring a witness as an employee in your office at taxpayers' expense as a reward for hiding behind the "5th" instead of telling the truth under oath?  What was so "nasty" about the truth that Rachel Palmer would rather take the 5th in public and ruin her reputation forever than to testify and tell the truth?  And what is important about keeping Palmer placated and her mouth shut that Lykos can't just terminate her employment.  Isn't that what prosecutors go to work and ask their witnesses to do everyday, take an oath and tell the truth?  I think the "average voter" can smell the hypocrisy and the corruption in this sordid tale.  And I didn't see any of it in Brian Roger's Easter article.                        
IF interest is low (and I don't believe it is low) would only be so because, in large part, honest reporting of the real issues is almost non-existent particularly in the DA race.  And if the real issues happen to be truly "nasty", who do we have to thank for that "vitriol"?  The truth of the matter is that Pat Lykos really is incompetent for the job she now holds because she has never been a prosecutor, and she has shown us first hand just how brutally unethical she is, because that is the type of character she has. The campaign against Lykos isn't vicious, the facts she has created show her to be vicious. And yes, character and competence do count for something with the "average voter", they are everything in fact.  That is, unless you favor letting the criminals who are guilty out of jail because prosecutors at your DA's Office can't try a case and you are also in favor of a DA's Office staffed by cronies who will cover up the DA's crimes for her and intimidate those who seek to find out the truth. Or unless you are the Chronicle and have made a deal with the devil.
We have yet to hear who the Chronicle will endorse in the DA race, but I believe that even the "average voter" can see that it probably won't be the right person. 
-Spunk.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spunk
As an average voter as you, I do believe in the Grand Jury not being beholden to anyone or thing. They've spoken "No Indictment and no wrong doing found". Live with it and digest reality. Yes, you and a very few others are detractors that continue to stir a very small bowl. As far as Brian Rogers article, it explains the facts that you attempt to repeatedly distort.

Anonymous said...

I am the average voter; I am not connected to anyone at the DA's office and I concur with Spunk. The leadership in the office has abused their power; their lack of cooperation to an official investigation was a travesty - not to mention in direct conflict with Harris County Employee Policies that clearly state every employee will cooperate with any investigation "or will be disciplined". As a citizen and taxpayer, I expect that our Harris County employees follow the HC policies or be disciplined. Not one of of the leaders in the office even pretended to cooperate and most of the leaders tried to sabotage the investigation. Lykos had (and has) a duty to discipline those employees that did not cooperate. Since she has rewarded the one that took the fifth (and others) then she is guilty by association and needs to be removed.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get that at all from Brian Rogers' article. The issues y'all gripe about don't reach the average voter. And the average Republican voter won't care, because they'll vote for the Republican who has the blessing of the Party. This Spunk guy can pound away at the keys all he wants--his post didn't shed any more light on the subject and will not reach one single more voter than this blog already does. Complaints about the Chronicle have run rampant on this blog since day one. That's old and tired too.

Rage

Anonymous said...

Rage, I am an "average Republican voter" and a member of the Tea Party. I can assure you, I will not be voting for anyone that Jared Woodfill or Robert Eckels endorses. It is exactly people like them who have driven the GOP in Harris County into the ground. Trust me, we are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Chron, you really think the average voter doesn't care when an ADA takes the Fifth? Seriously? Are we in mobster Chicago or something?

Average voters are sick of the corruption and the complete embarrassment of our DA (not just Lykos, obviously) and of HPD (ongoing problems for years). I think the HPD no confidence vote probably helped Lykos, as much as I hate that.

Average voters would totally understand a well-investigated BAT Van story, but that would require picking up a phone and calling a DWI defense attorney or two. I haven't heard a straight answer yet, have you?

My only hope is that Brian is saving the goods for closer to the election. Please.

Anonymous said...

9:27, if you're a Tea Partier you are not the average Republican. Average Republicans, like average Democrats, think you're a whack job.

And you'll get out and vote no matter what. The average Republican is far more likely to think "Romney"s boring and he will carry Texas anyway, so I think I'll stay home instead of vote."

That will get Lykos re-elected.

Rage

Anonymous said...

As a prosecutor who personally can't stand RP, I have to say that firing her would almost certainly result in a lawsuit against the county. I've checked the case law and consulted some appellate experts, and firing a person for exercising her Constitutional right could (and likely would) result in a big fat judgment against Harris County. Even though I cringe when I think about what she did, I don't think that she can be punished without some major civil exposure.

Come on, great legal minds, and tell me if you can think of a way to fire or suspend her without serious consequences.

Anonymous said...

RP shouldn't be fired for taking the fifth. She should be disciplined (fired, suspended or demoted) for violating HC personnel regulation that states "Employees must cooperate with all investigations"..."Consequences for Violations - Employees who violate any portion of this policy are subject to disciplinary action, including termination"

Anonymous said...

Any adverse employment action can get you sued.

And your secrets blown.

Rage

Thomas Hobbes said...

Anon 2:08 PM

Thank you for parsing what you wanted to hear from the County's nondiscrimination policy (Personnell Regs, Section 3), which does reference cooperation and disciplinary action. Unfortunately, that particular policy has no relevance to RP's situation.

Anonymous said...

2:44 - you're right - let's skip the discrimination clause and go straight to the policy paragraphs regarding ethics:

ETHICS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
2.01 All Harris County employees shall maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior. Employees will exercise honesty and integrity, respect,....All public servants shall carry out the public’s business in a manner that benefits the public interest and trust.
2.02 Employees shall protect the County’s ...reputation through professional and personal conduct and avoid circumstances that create an appearance of impropriety.

RP did not protect the HC's reputation and she (not only did not avoid), but she CREATED circumstances that created an appearance of impropriety

Anonymous said...

As a long, long time county employee, I have to agree with the idea that the "average voter," whatever that means, does not pay too much attention to what really goes on in the courthouse. It's not that the average voter does not care what happens, but it's difficult for such a person to understand what that means as far as her/own interest is concerned. Remember, lawyers spend a lot of time during voir dire trying to get some fairly simple legal concerts understood. Why would that be any different with this issue?

Anonymous said...

Those who think people are not paying attention to the foolishness in the DA's office might just be surprised when we stop writing checks to GOP candidates and support others more often.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering where Pat Lykos acquired her vast experience in relation to drug enforcement, street gangs, and DNA laboratories?