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WHAT’S ‘K. CONSUMER CONFIDENCE NUMBERS? WHAT’S THE MARKET DOING? Sing-a-long Time at Old Camp Economic Forum reprieve, courtesy ofwe are not making this upmigratory burrowing owls. The owls, protected as endangered in Canada, lay their eggs in abandoned dog holes, and Lubbock Assistant City Manager Richard Burdine has said that the city won’t pursue dog control until the owls leave for the southwest, usually around December. “Our primary concern is protecting the burrowing owls:’ Burdine says now. The dogs, meanwhile, continue to await their fate. And 60 to 90 feet below the Land Application Site, someone somewhere perhaps remembers, is a growing dome of groundwater increasingly contaminated by sources that have nothing to do with either burrowing owls or prairie dogs the one thing for which TNRCC hasn’t demanded a plan. SHOES DROP Last fall we reported on the troubled Chambers County Narcotics Task Force in rural Southeast Texas, which, according to several former employees, has become a disastrous counter-example of how the drug war should be run \(see “The Numbers Game:’ by Nate wake of that reportwhich detailed first-hand accounts of corruption, racial targeting, statistic padding, and general incompetencethe project director, local District Attorney Mike Little, told the Chambers County Commissioners Court that he’d just as soon give up the state-funded project, it had become such a pain in the ass for him. But the commissioners could not stomach the alternativeturning the task force over to the Chambers County Sheriff’s Departmentand decided to stick with Little. Wise move. Over the course of the last three months, the sheriff’s department, led since January 2001 by Sheriff Monroe Kreuzer, has publicly self-destructed. or been fired, and four have been indicted, including the chief deputy, Dearl Hardy. Hardy, readers will recall, was formerly the assistant commander of the drug task force and featured prominently in the misadventures chronicled in these pages last fall. Not long after he was drummed out of the task force \(Hardy claimed he left for “perKreuzer made Hardy his first hire at the sheriff’s department. \(He did have from there. Hardy immediately hired some of his former associates and began setting up his own drug interdiction outfit at the sheriff’s office, but things did not go exactly as planned. First there were the dogs: Hardy bought five drug dogs at a cost of around $10,000 each, apparently without obtaining county approval. Hardy’s boys have since managed to kill two of the dogs. \(A third ripped Hardy’s shoulder out of its socket, to county is refusing to pay for the dogs, and the dog outfitter is threatening to sue. Then one of Hardy’s hires, Deputy David Beck, was accused of a theft that allegedly occurred during a drug interdiction traffic stop. Beck, who was fired from the department, is still under investigation. Next came deputy Crystal Schoppe’s \(another indictment for improper sexual conduct with a prisoner. The thread that finally caused the outfit to unravel completely was the arrestand beatingof Vernon Coates. Sheriff’s deputies claimed that Coates, who is black, had tried to run them over during an altercation in Anahuac in March of last year. They followed him to his house and, according to witnesses at the house and at the hospital, beat him severely in the course of arresting him. While recovering from the beating, Coates learned he was being charged with attempted murder. This was later reduced to two counts of aggravated assault, but Coates was still looking at up to 99 years. In September of last year, Coates was stopped again while out on bond and charged with a DWI. With the help of an inside source, Coates’ attorney Ed Lieck discovered that the charges were fabricated. The arresting officers, Deputies John Joslin and Scott Hulsey, were indicted for tampering with government records and perjury. Hulsey and Joslin then flipped on Hardy, claiming he put them up to it to further discredit Coates prior to his upcoming assault trial. Hardy finally got the axe in July, and, on August 17, he became the fourth officer indicted in the last two months. He is facing perjury and tampering charges, which could mean up to 14 years in prison. All charges against Coates \(including dropped, and the new chief deputy is taking applications. 8/30/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13