Page 7


Mr. President, where are the weapons of mass destruction? ER… DEAR LORD, WUZZA-13UZZA, HUMWM-AMY_ _____–j111111.11.1111E NORTH KOREA! THANK GOD! TRIBUNE MEDIA April 1P20 1635 519103 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11 After Messer signed on with CCA, the private prison initiative found a new home in a mammoth government reform package called House Bill 2. The bill, which was still changing at press time, will expand the prison system and make the expansion private. It may increase work programs in private prisons. Unlike Allen’s original bill, the commission has dropped from 9 members to two, with three non-voting ex-oficio members. It will also repeal monitoring laws. Additionally, among a host of other items, the omnibus legislation will give unprecedented power to the governor: It will provide Perry increased control over state agencies and contracting, reduce the membership on supervisory boards or eliminate them outright, allow him to keep his budget deliberations secret, and remove the requirement that he present his budget by a certain time. Like tort reform and HB 2292, the health and human services reorganization sponsored by Rep. that combines 12 agencies into four, HB 2 is chock full of long sought after and often controversial leadership priorities with a few must-pass provisions thrown in. For tort reform it was liability relief for the doctors. The leadership told legislators HB 2292 had to pass because the projected savings it offered had already been earmarked in the budget. HB 2 carries a laundry list of government reform and will be much harder to defeat than a single bill solely on prison privatization. As the Observer goes to press, the 412-page bill was being heard in the Government Reform Committee during a meeting that ended shortly before dawn. Republicans outnumber Democrats five to two on the committee. Included among the Republicans is Rep. Ray Allen. CHICKENS ROOSTING IN TULIA Tom Coleman, the discredited undercover officer from the infamous Tulia bust, will soon be on the receiving end of Swisher County justice. On April 26, Coleman was indicted on three counts of aggravated perjury, all stemming from his testimony in the evidentiary hearings held in Tulia in March. If convicted, Coleman could get two to 10 years for each count, though he is technically eligible for probation. A warrant has been issued for his arrest. The local D.A., Terry McEachern, has recused himself in the case. Instead, Coleman will be prosecuted by the same two special prosecutors, Rod Hobson and John Nation, brought in by McEachern to help with the March hearings. In less than a month, Hobson and Nation have switched from the Herculean task of defending Coleman’s work in Swisher County to the seemingly more palatable job of trying to put him in prison. Outside the grand jury room, Nation said that he and his partner had no other choice, once they began to suspect that Coleman was lying on the stand. That must be the difference between a “special” prosecutor and a regular one: Terry McEachern managed to examine Coleman in at least seven trials over the last three years without feeling the same call to duty. The Tulia defense team has since catalogued at least a dozen instances of apparent perjury from those trial transcripts, though the statute of limitations has now run out on that testimony. IRONY IS DEAD You can find the truth in the strangest of places. For those who don’t read the Dallas Morning News we felt it worthwhile to share some of the words of in a recent editorial he wrote for the paper: “Advocates, commentators and most of the House Democrats are complaining that the $117.7 billion budget will hurt public education, the elderly and the infirm. They are urging the Senate to “undo” the damage. And some even are charging that the budget process was rigged to eliminate government programs that Republicans don’t like. “From reading or hearing all of that, a visitor from another state might think a band of elitist radicals had staged a coup d’etat and forced a bare-bones budget down the throat of a collectively clueless majority in Texas. That couldn’t be further from the truth” : Nah, that could never happen.