Page 2


CourthouseDirect. Public records online not in line Immediately Download Deeds, Mortgages, Liens, AJs, etc. 63 Texas Counties Over 420 counties nationwide Start a Title Agency Title Plants in 7 Texas Counties Celebrating 25 years of Public Records & Property Research between them, still unsettled, has spread across at least three states. Attorneys for both Katzes declined to comment about the case. In February 2005, Sessions was concerned enough to furnish Ahron Katz with the affidavit recounting the cell phone conversation. In that sworn statement, Sessions expressed disappointment that Lucia had decided to renege on the deceptive deal. “The intent expressed to me was that both understood that it was clearly never intended by Ahron to gift this property to Lucia and Lucia clearly understood this,” Sessions said in the affidavit. In Dallas, where Sessions has virtually controlled the Republican Party for the past three election cycles, there is growing GOP dis sension following a clean sweep by Democrats in the last election. Although demographic changes explained much of the astonishing turnaround in the once unassailable Republican stronghold, Sessions is being blamed for caring more about his friends than the Republican base. “Other areas of the state experienced the same demographic changes, but the Democrats didn’t run the table,” says a Dallas political consultant who has been active in Republican races and asked for that reason not to be identified. “I think a lot of people feel that Pete is just all about Pete.” The Katz affair, little known beyond a handful of political operatives, is seen as further evidence of Sessions’ lack of judgment. Restive Republicans in Dallas say that if Sessions continues to stumble, he may well open the way for a challenge by a significant GOP candidate; several are already poised to pursue him if he falters, or worse, decides to run for the Senate. is what he really wants to do, he’s really going to get a rude awakening,” says the Dallas Republican campaign operative. “I think then he’ll find out who his friends really areor aren’t.” Allen Pusey is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Bad Bills, continued from page 14 The bill also eliminates the requirement that crime labs report serious allegations of misconduct or negligence to the commission. “[The commission] would be nothing more than a reference desk for DPS,” says Edwin Colfax, Austin-based director of state reform campaigns for the Justice Project. “There would be no duty upon anybody to provide information of any sort to the commission.” Driver says putting DPS in charge would be cheaper, especially for a commission that has no money to speak of yet. “Since DPS already has the personnel who investigate labs for accreditation purposes … this will be the least expensive and simplest solution we’ve been able to come up with,” Driver said when the bill was heard in the House Law Enforcement Committee, which he chairs. “This bill does not give DPS any authority over the work of the Forensic Science Commission, but it does give them the responsibility to assist?’ The commission is set to receive money in both the House and Senate versions of the budget this session $175,000 over the next two years in the House and $500,000 in the Senate. Samuel Bassett, a criminal defense lawyer and a Perry appointee on the commission, says $175,000 would be enough for administrative costs, but the $500,000 would be needed for the commission to conduct its own investigations. He says the commission opposes the changes proposed in the bill. “We’d like to be wholly independent of DPS,” Bassett says. Opponents also say it’s too soon to change a commission that hasn’t been able to do its job yet. “This bill seems like a solution in search of a problem,” Saloom says. By stripping the commission of its independence, lawmakers also could put Texas at risk of losing federal grant money, opponents say. The Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant program, which gives the state about $1.5 million every two years, requires that states have an independent, external entity to investigate crime labs. Perhaps some higher-ups aren’t willing to own up to the profound mistakes poor forensic practices have triggered. “Why are you amending a bill for a commission that is clearly a do-nothing commission?” asks Bill Allison, a University of Texas Law professor who testified against the bill. “Don’t you have it just about where you want it anyway?” SHADY DEALING HB 699 For years, the state’s General Land Office APRIL 20, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21