The State of Texas: March 31, 2015
Headline of the Day
Malpractice – The prognosis was negative for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission now that a highly anticipated report from a governor-appointed committee has been released. “The scathing report described an enterprise in ‘quiet turmoil,’ one that ‘lacks a clear vision for its future and a strategic direction,’ and one where ‘too often . . . decisions are reactive,’” notes the Dallas Morning News. “In pursuing one contract, the commission ‘skirted the limits of permissibility under state law,’ the report said.” In the hot seat, health commissioner Kyle Janek sent a letter to lawmakers saying the commission plans to do some triage, stat. The chances are high that this won’t be enough to save Janek’s job. “The strike force report, based on interviews with commission employees and news reports, detailed how Janek’s group of close aides kept other key officials out, even on decisions involving their departments or agencies,” according to the Texas Tribune. In a statement, Governor Greg Abbott mentioned managerial problems and called the findings “unacceptable.” Abbott wants some time to think over next steps, but as the Tribune so diplomatically put it, “those decisions will probably include whether Janek, who has said he was misled by staffers about the state’s software contract with Austin firm 21CT, remains at the helm.”
Testify – The Bernie Tiede case is back in the news, this time with a rather interesting twist. The prosecutor who sent the infamous Bernie to jail the first time is now asking to be released from the latest proceedings, a pre-hearing retrial, because he says he’s become a witness. “In a motion filed Monday in state district court in Carthage, Danny Buck Davidson asked to recuse himself and other prosecutors in his Panola County District Attorney’s Office from the Bernie Tiede case,” reports the Associated Press. The details of why or how the whole prosecutorial team are now witnesses aren’t clear yet. Davidson has been hinting that he wants off the case for some time, and the family of Marjorie Nugent finally “outlined and filed a long list of complaints including the claim that there are at least three situations where Davidson could be called to testify in Tiede’s new trial. Davidson’s potential testimony would be problematic if he was also prosecuting the case,” according to CBS19. “Worse, they said, is that Davidson is sitting on key evidence of theft. It’s a story that boils down to millions of dollars stolen from Nugent—and millions of reasons Tiede could have wanted her dead.”
In Memoriam – A day that will live in infamy, today marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of famed Tejano singer Selena. Corpus Christi, the singer’s hometown, is in the spotlight thanks to the date “with concerts, lookalike contests, dances, and a massive festival,” according to the Associated Press. As the story notes, however, today is a rather mournful day for the family, certainly not something that might include festivals, creating some understandably mixed feelings. “[The celebration of Selena] grows every day with events everywhere, but we’re not organizing them. Our family never got together every year on the day of her murder, because there’s nothing to celebrate, and this year won’t be the exception. . . . We remember our daughter every single day. We don’t need a special day to remember her.” For an official remembrance and celebration, a huge weekend concert put on by the city of Corpus Christi has been planned closer to the singer’s birthday, April 17, which will include a lineup of Tejano music.
Back at It – Another day, another legal motion filed in the Texas-led fight against the Obama Administration’s immigration order. In a 69-page brief, “lawyers for the federal government are challenging a preliminary injunction issued in February by a federal judge in Brownsville, Texas,” that put a hold on the order, according to the Associated Press. “Justice Department lawyers say in the new court filing that the federal government has unique authority to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and to use its limited resources to exercise discretion during the deportation process, including by deferring removal of certain groups of immigrants, such as those who do not pose a public safety threat.” There will be a court hearing on April 17.