Monday, May 19, 2014

Early Runoff Voting Begins: Two Very Important Elections

Today begins Early Voting for the runoff elections across the State of Texas.  Unlike the early voting period for the earlier primary elections, this period of early voting only lasts for ONE WEEK.

Please, please, please do NOT procrastinate in getting to any local polling location and casting your vote, because there are two very important elections that need your attention in the Republican Primary.
Remember the Rules of voting in the Runoff for a Party Primary:

1.  It is NOT a requirement that you voted in the earlier election in March to be allowed to vote in the Runoff.

2.  The only reason you could NOT vote in the Republican Runoff is IF you voted in the Democratic Primary election in March.

So, don't use "well, I didn't vote earlier, so I can't vote now" as an excuse.  You absolutely CAN VOTE and SHOULD.

Now, onto the Races:

COUNTY COURT AT LAW # 10 - Republican Primary Runoff

Former-prosecutor and current Criminal Defense Attorney Tonya Rolland McLaughlin is running against family lawyer Dan Spjut.

As I've said before, Tonya is the real deal and the Houston Chronicle described her as not only the most qualified candidate in the race, but the only qualified candidate in the race.  Tonya has the experience and perspective of having worked for both the prosecution and the defense.  She also works in the appellate law field, which keeps her knowledgable and up-to-date on the latest case law affecting criminal cases.  She is widely respected by the judiciary, the prosecution and the defense and is the clear choice for the race.

Dan Spjut, on the other hand, doesn't practice criminal law, although he seems to feel qualified to run a court.  I couldn't disagree more.  He is a former police officer who seems to have tunnel vision that he would bring to bench.  At a recent campaign event, Spjut heavily criticized Tonya for the mere reason that she had dared to practice as a criminal defense attorney.  He expressed a disdain for the profession which is highly troubling.  If we have a judge on the bench who thinks that the defense attorney profession is so disgusting, one can only imagine how he would feel towards the rights of the Accused.

Tonya Rolland McLaughlin needs your support and she deserves it, too.

311th DISTRICT COURT -- Republican Primary Runoff

Normally, I don't delve into races that aren't directly related to criminal law, but a Family Court bench does have tangentially related issues to what goes on at the CJC.  Furthermore, this race is so important that it needs your urgent attention, as well.

If you follow the news, you have probably heard about embattled former-judge Denise Pratt.  Her bizarre and unethical behavior during her brief stint as judge of the 311th caused her to ultimately have to resign her bench.  Unfortunately, she didn't resign in time to have her name from the Runoff ballot and she is option to vote for.  (NOTE:  Pratt has announced that she has suspended her campaign, but we need to make sure that this message gets to all the voters.)

By contrast, Alicia Franklin is a highly qualified candidate who is liked and respected by all who deal with her.  As I've mentioned before, I don't practice family law, but many of my friends do and they unanimously sing the praises of Alicia.  Let me put it this way -- when I have my ex-wife and my last divorce attorney telling me that I need to vote for a candidate, I think I've come up with the very definition of a consensus!

Pratt shouldn't be on the ballot and this shouldn't be a contest, but it is.  The same applies for the McLaughlin/Spjut race.

Get out there and vote People!  This is an important one!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Travels with Comcast

Ok, this one has nothing to do with the CJC, but I have to do some extreme venting.  It may be tangentially related to a life of crime, because I could see someone snapping after being forced to deal with Comcast for a prolonged period of time.

As most of my friends know, my family and I moved to Oak Forest last weekend.  We had been looking forward to living in the new house and had been very organized in our planning for the move.  One of the things on the our "to do" list for the move, obviously, was transferring service for cable and utilities, etc,  For the past several years, I've used Comcast/Xfinity as my cable, internet, and phone provider.  Although we experienced some issues with Comcast when we added their home security to the mix last year, for the most part, things had been okay.

So, I made the ill-fated decision to bring Comcast on over from the old house to the new house.

Huge mistake.

Our moving day was Friday, May 2nd. A few weeks in advance, I called Comcast and told them I would like to transfer service.  We agreed to shut off service at my 5th Ward townhouse that Friday and their technical folks would come set up cable, internet, phone and security on Saturday, May 3rd.

Comcast sent three techs out to the new house on Saturday.  Two guys were doing the phone, internet and cable, while the third guy was there strictly for security.  The phone, internet and cable guys got in and got out fairly quickly and everything was working fine.  The security guy would prove to be a bit more problematic.

He began by telling us that he was a specialist at installing the fire/smoke detectors and that we must have ordered that (more expensive) addition to our security system.  When I told him that we didn't need fire and smoke protection from Comcast, he acknowledged that we had not previously ordered it.  He was basically just trying to con us into it, I suppose.

He spent the next few hours installing gadgets around the house and then attempted to bring it online.  To make a long story short, all of his attempts to get the security system online failed.  He blamed it on the fact that the service was being transferred and he was getting really angry with the people he kept calling on the phone.

Ultimately, he gave up.

"Look," he told me.  "You've got two options here.  You can sign this paperwork and say that we've correctly installed everything and then get somebody else out here to fix it next week.  Or, you can refuse to sign and I'm going to have to take the equipment down and take it with me."

Seeing as how I'm a lawyer and such, I told him I wasn't going to sign a piece of paper stating that everything was installed correctly when, in fact, it was not.

Well, that pissed him off.  He took down the alarm monitor and the wireless router for the alarm and left without another word.  He didn't reschedule an appointment to correctly install the alarm system.  He just left.

Once he left, I immediately noticed that the internet was no longer working.  So I called Comcast.  Over the next three days, I probably spent easily four hours on the phone -- holding and being transferred from one department to another.  Techs tried to walk me through rebooting the internet.  We got the internet working, but for some reason the modem wouldn't communicate with my home wireless router.  Ultimately, we determined that our friendly neighborhood tech had somehow disabled it when he left in his snit.  They said that they would send me a new modem with the wireless router built in.

They told me that last Wednesday.

In the meantime, I had to call and spend another couple of hours on the phone trying to reschedule somebody to come out and install my home security system.  For some reason, getting another tech out seemed to require an act of Congress.  Seriously.  It was ridiculous.  I spent a good forty five minutes on the phone with a lady who told me she would have to call me back before she could schedule a tech to come out and install the damn security system.

It was totally shocking when she never called back.  When I called back for a follow up, the automated answering service informed me that they had scheduled an appointment for me for Wednesday, May 14th some time between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.   Somehow, nobody from Comcast had bothered to check with me or inform me that I would be taking the day off from work to meet someone at my house to fix their screw up.

In the meantime, I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new modem/router that they promised to send me last Wednesday.

So, I made yet another phone call to Comcast, and after being transferred three times, I ended up on the phone with a reasonable enough person.  I told him all the trauma and drama we had been going through just to get a damn tech out to the house, and I told him that I thought that enough malfeasance had occurred that they were in breach of the three year contract I had with them for security.  He ultimately agreed to let me break out of the contract with no penalty fees.  I would just need to allow a representative from Comcast come collect the remainder of the security gear.

No problem -- we set that up for Friday, May 9th.

In the meantime, I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new modem/router that they promised to send me last Wednesday.

So, on Friday, a tech from Comcast shows up to collect the security equipment.  He was a nice guy.  He looked around my house and then asked where the router and security panel were.  I informed him that the first tech had taken it with him when he left in a snit.  The new tech told me that the first tech had never turned the equipment in and that I was going to be billed for it.  When I calmly explained to him that this was a tremendous crock of shit, he seemed sympathetic.  He told me he would send an email to his supervisors when he got back to the office.

In the meantime, I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new modem/router that they promised to send me last Wednesday.

So, the weekend rolls around and it was relatively busy with Mother's Day and all.  Our living room looks like R2-D2's intestines with the ethernet cords that we have dragged around the house.  Since we only have one modem and ethernet cord, my wife and I have to take turns using the computer.

It's like we're Neanderthals, people!!

In the meantime, I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new modem/router that they promised to send me last Wednesday.

On Monday, I get anxious about why I haven't gotten the new modem/router, so I call Comcast to check its status.  That phone call lasts about 45 minutes.  The nice lady that I talked to fluctuated between telling me that the order had not shipped yet and that it had.  Ultimately, she convinced me that the order had shipped and I should be getting it at the new house at any moment.

So, there was much excitement this afternoon (Tuesday, May 13th) when UPS knocked at the door with a box from Comcast/Xfinity.  The family was like a group of kids at Christmas!  At last, wireless internet had returned to our home and we could leave the Stone Age.  No one seemed to notice that the box was relatively small from one that was supposed to contain a modem.

We all anxiously gathered in the kitchen as I ceremoniously opened the box.  As I cut away the tape and opened the box, I found . . .

Nothing.

NOTHING!  The jackasses at Comcast had literally sent me an empty box.  The only contents inside were styrofoam, a mailing label, and instructions on how to mail back my Comcast equipment.

So, I made yet another call to Comcast.  It was easily my 10th call in the past 10 days.  The nice young man at the other end of the line found a record that they were supposed to send me a new wireless router/modem, as well as the packing material to send back my old modem.  As he looked at the order form, he told me "Well, it looks like the only thing they sent you was the old modem's return box."

He then modified that statement to say that what the return box was actually supposed to be for was my alarm equipment.  I had to explain again that the angry first tech had taken all that equipment with him when he left.

The man on the other end of the line said he's sending a new tech out tomorrow to fix my wifi.  I asked him if he would have the wireless router/modem.  He told me that all the Comcast techs have that equipment with them for installation at all times.

In the meantime, I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new modem/router that they promised to send me last Wednesday.

So, if you actually read all the way through this lengthy post, I thank you.  I needed to write it more than you needed to read it, so thanks for bearing with me.

In the meantime, if ever presented the option of another cable company or Comcast, always choose the other company.

In fact, if ever presented the option of Comcast or living as the Amish do, you might want to purchase a bonnet and get ready to start churning some buttermilk.