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THE STATE OF TEXAS Average Texas Divorce HUSBAND’S AGE 37.3 WIFE’S AGE 34.7 CHILDREN 1.6 LENGTH OF MARRIAGE 9.8 years DIVORCE RATE 40% Source: Texas Department of Health VIEW DOCUMENTS related to the proposed Weslaco detention center at tx1o.corn/weslaco early 2000s, says Jerry Polinard, a political science professor at the University of Texas-Pan American. “Gov. Bush deliberately avoided immigrant-bashing,” Polinard says. “But the Republican emphasis now on border security instead of comprehensive immigration reform is viewed by many Latinos as anti-immigrant.” Republicans hold a slim majority in the Texas Legislature. If Democrats can avoid losing too many seats in November, an Arizona-type bill would probably not pass next session. “The likelihood of it passing is slim in the current context,” Polinard says. “I think there are enough moderate Republicans left in the Legislature to let Berman and Riddle’s legislation die a quiet death.” MELISSA DEL BOSQUE FAMILY BUSINESS Like Father, Like Son FIRST, STATE REP. EDDIE LUCID III FOLLOWED HIS DAD, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., into politics. Now the Brownsville Democrat has taken over one of his father’s business ventures: consulting for a sketchy private-prison developer. The younger Lucio is consulting for Argyle, Texasbased Corplan Corrections Ltd., which has become notorious for selling struggling communities on risky, government-financed prisons with rosy promises of new jobs and economic richesthen leaving communities to figure out how to keep the facilities open. Corplan was part of a consortium behind a now-infamous $27-million jail in Hardin, Montanait has never housed a prisoner. The elder Lucio consulted for Corplan and other private-prison outfits from 1999 until 2005. Sen. Lucio helped convince local officials in Willacy County, north of Brownsville, to build a $60 million, 2,000bed federal immigration detention center. In 2005, he suspended his lucrative consulting in the wake of a federal investigation that led to the conviction of two Willacy County commissioners for accepting bribes to support the project. Who supplied the bribes is a mystery; the investigation led to no further charges. The stench of scandal has not deterred “Little Lucio” from consulting for Corplan. Recently the company has approached towns in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas with plans to build a detention facility for undocumented immigrant families. The company tapped Lucio to help in Weslaco, just outside his Rio Grande Valley district. In February, Lucio and Corplan CEO James Parkey urged Weslaco commissioners to pass a resolution supporting Corplan’s effort. It could be a lousy deal for Weslaco. “I think they’re being duped, frankly,” says Michelle Brane, director of detention and asylum programs with the Women’s Refugee Commission. The Obama administration has pledged to build no new facilities for undocumented children and their parents. According to an e-mail obtained by the Observer, the Weslaco city attorney learned in July 2009 that federal solicitation for new family detention facilities had been canceled. Weslaco Mayor Buddy de la Rosa says he didn’t know about the policy shift. Lucio and Corplan didn’t mention it. Neither did the city attorney. De la Rosa wonders if it explains why he hasn’t heard from Parkey or Lucio recently. “They have been remarkably quiet for the past several weeks,” he told the Observer in late April. FORREST WILDER DEPT. OF INJUSTICE Slow Burn AFTER NEARLY SEVEN MONTHS’ DELAY, THE TEXAS FORENSIC Science Commission turned its attention back to the disputed case of Cameron Todd Willingham on April 23for all of 10 minutes. The upshot: more stalling of its inquiry into whether discredited forensic evidence led to Willingham’s conviction for the 1991 fire that killed his three daughters. Nine fire scientists have examined the case and concluded that Willingham was likely innocent when Texas executed him in 2004. The commission’s investigation halted last September, when Gov. Rick Perry replaced three members of the panel and installed hard-line Williamson County D.A. John Bradley as chair. Bradley kept the politically dangerous Willingham affair out of public view during the GOP gubernatorial primarya political boon for Perry, who allowed the execution to go forward despite questions about the evidence. On April 23, the commissioners met for more than six hours in a cramped room packed with reporters and activists in the upscale Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving. For most of that time, they avoided any talk of cases marred by disproved forensicsthe agency’s primary missionin favor of more mundane topics: backlogs at crime labs, whether to hire a general counsel, and maintenance of the agency’s website. They finally raised the Willingham issue four hours into the meeting and spent 10 minutes explaining they had a lot of work left on the case and that the inquiry is in its “infancy.” Four members were named to a panel that will continue the Willingham investigationout of public view. Bradley made that clear when he talkedand we’re using the term looselywith reporters after the meeting. Asked about a timeline for the investigation, he said, in perhaps the quote of the year: “However long it takes, that’s however long it takes.” Asked how he would describe the meeting, Bradley responded, “Well, you were here. You heard it. You can report it.” ENCE MAY 14, 2010 THE TEXAS OBSERVER I 3