Cox in supreme court again as junior judges’ county request upsets him

By Ian White

LONNIE COX and three of his fellow judges at the county justice center were at loggerheads on Monday after the junior-court jurists asked the county commissioners to set up a court-administrator system even though the county already has one. cox, lonnie2
Cox, left, the justice center’s administrative judge, lodged an emergency motion asking the state’s supreme court to prevent the county commissioners acting on the request after they listed it in the agenda for their meeting set for yesterday, Tuesday.
The judge and the commissioners are currently awaiting the supreme court’s decision on whether to hear their long-running legal argument over who has the right to oversee the county’s justice administration department.
Cox told The Post on Monday evening that the requested system would be “a parallel and duplicate of the justice administration department we already have” but one of the three county-court judges who submitted the request said he could not understand “what all the hubbub is about”.
Cox, who sits in the 56th district court at Galveston, placed his 40-page emergency motion on the Austin court’s docket after learning that the commissioners planned to consider “approval of staffing and structure of [a] court administration department including related budgetary action” during the meeting.grady-john-2014-cropped
He maintained that such action would be a “direct and flagrant violation” of a temporary injunction he won from visiting judge Sharolyn Wood in June last year preventing the commissioners taking any action regarding the county’s justice administration department pending a contempt trial in which county judge Mark Henry is accused of failing to follow orders issued by Cox in September 2014 and May 2015.
The trial has yet to take place because Henry and his fellow county commissioners appealed Wood’s judgment and, on losing the appeal, petitioned the supreme court for a review of the appellate court’s ruling, claiming the injunction has been automatically stayed by their legal protestations.
The supreme court, which has yet to state whether it will grant the commissioners’ petition, issued an order at 1:06pm on Monday giving their attorneys until 5:00pm that afternoon to respond to the emergency motion.
Ironically, their lead attorney, Terry Adams, who has become notorious for constantly delaying the appeal and petition by claiming extra time for reasons as extraordinary as a past dental appointment and moving his desk, met the deadline first time with a 14-page document that included an affidavit by county legal boss Bob Boemer and a declaration signed by No 1 county-court judge John Grady, above left.
Also attached was a copy of a request to the commissioners to “approve the establishment of a ‘court administrator’ system for the three Galveston county courts at law” under Texas government cosde section 75.401a.
The request, dated December 16, was signed by Grady and his fellow county-court judges, Barbara Roberts of court No 2 and Jack Ewing of court No 3.
Grady told The Post that it would not be proper for him to comment on the merits of the issue as it had become the subject of legal action. But he did say: “We made the request under Texas government code 75.401a and I cannot understand what all the hubbub is about.”
Cox, who said the county-
court judges first told him about the request at the end of a meeting on Thursday, said: “We’re on the brink of a supreme-court decision about the commissioners’ petition and the commissioners risk being found in contempt if they do anything beforehand.
“What possible good are the county-court judges getting by requesting a new department now? The risk outweighs the reward.”

CITY MANAGER Mark Rohr lost his League City job in a split vote during Tuesday’s council meeting while city attorney Nghiem Doan kept his, but only because councilmembers’ vote on his future ended in a tie.rohr-mark
Both employees were on the chopping block after city mayor Pat Hallisey had made it known late in November that he would include a vote on their termination during the meeting.
It is well known that there have been several disagreements between the mayor and the pair for several months.
During the meeting, Doan, who joined the city staff in May 2015, said the decision to consider his termination was because of personality differences between himself and some councilmembers rather than his job performance.
Hallisey, whose motion to fire Rohr, above, was seconded by position two councilmember Hank Dugie, said he had lost confidence in both Doan and Rohr and, referring to the latter, added: “I’m suggesting we terminate this agreement and get on with the future of League City”.
Doan was saved when position one councilmember Dan Becker, position four member Todd Kinsey, position six member Keith Gross and position seven member Nick Long voted against firing him.
But Rohr was terminated in a 5-3 vote when Gross joined Hallisey, Dugie, position three member Larry Millican and position five member Greg Gripon in voting to fire him.
After the meeting, Rohr, who was hired by the council in March 2014, released a statement in which he said the action against him had always been about retaliation.
“My concern was to uphold the charter and to see that council’s own rules are observed to ensure the smooth operation of the city government”, he said, referring to a disagreement that began in summer when he wrote to councilmembers informing them that he regarded some actions by Hallisey as being breaches of the city charter and council regulations.
“It was the right thing to do then and it is still the right thing to do”, his statement said.

Senate president calls for acts in 10 key legislative areas

By Ed Sterling

LIEUTENANT governor Dan Patrick, who presides over the Texas senate, released a list of his top 10 legislative targets for the 85th session as its filing season got under way on November 14.
Patrick’s priorities, including his comments on each, are:
Budget: “We will pass a balanced budget that will strengthen the Texas economy” and ensure that it “retains its global competitiveness”.
Property-tax reform: “Texans pay the sixth-highest property taxes in the nation and the high rates are taxing people out of their homes and hampering business growth. This must change.”
School choice: “There is broad support for legislation to ensure that every parent has the option to send their child to the school they believe is best for them.”
Sanctuary cities: “No city in Texas should be allowed to ignore the law. We will end this practice once and for all this session.”
Voter photo ID: “Nothing is more critical to our democracy than the integrity of the voting process. Photo Voter ID is essential.”
Women’s privacy: “A majority of Texans in both political parties and in every ethnic and demographic group believe that women and girls should have privacy and safety in their restrooms, showers and locker rooms.”
Teacher-student relationships: “With the rapid increase in the number of inappropriate teacher-student relationships, legislation is needed to strengthen the reporting and training requirements and establish appropriate penalties. Priority must be given to protecting our students at every level of the school system.”
Abortion: “We will continue to fight to protect the dignity and sanctity of life by increasing criminal penalties for buying or selling human fetal tissue, among other protections, and we will ban partial-birth abortion in Texas.”
Spending cap: “We will continue to fight to strengthen the state spending limit so our government lives within its means.”
Hailstorm lawsuit reform: “We will rein in the hailstorm lawsuit abuse that is damaging local economies around our state.”
Patrick, above, also mentioned his plan for the introduction of legislation to bring about reforms in professional ethics, child protective services and tuition and to reduce the hand-gun licensing fee, reduce the state franchise tax and prohibit government collection of union dues.

Could there be a lone-star cabinet?

By Ed Sterling

REPUBLICAN Donald Trump, on his way to winning the presidential election on November 8, won the vote in Texas with more than a nine-point margin over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Trump, above right, received 4,651,955 votes, 52.39 per cent of the 8,878,152 votes cast, while 2,842,553 votes, 43 per cent, were cast by Texans for the former US secretary of state in the race for the White House.
With president-elect Trump choosing people to flesh out his administration before his inauguration, a few Texans were among the names floated as possible nominees for cabinet-level appointments in various journals last week.
Two of particular note were former governor, agriculture commissioner and state representative Rick Perry and current US senator John Cornyn, who is senate majority whip and also a former member of the Texas supreme court.
Also among them were two US representatives, Michael McCaul of Austin, who is chair of the house committee on homeland security, and Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, chair of the house financial services committee.
Texas agriculture commissioner Sid Miller’s name was also touted as a possible new Washington insider.
• Ed Sterling’s Lone Star Watch column is online at http://thepostnewspaper.net/2016/11/15/crisis-cash-call-for-kids-care/.

Perry, Rick - Gage Skidmore-MGN                             Rick Perry

Cornyn, John                     John Cornyn

McCaul, Michael Republican Austin                       Michael McCaul

hensarling-jeb-chair-of-house-of-financial-services-2016-cropped                Jeb Hensarling

miller-sid-texas-agriculture-2016                    Sid Miller

Lone Star watch by Ed Sterling

THE STATE has moved swiftly to take up its political leaders’ challenge to boost protection for children at risk of abuse.
The senate finance committee’s child protection workgroup met on November 7 and issued two recommendations for emergency funding to address deficits in care.
It wants a $12,000 annual pay raise for frontline caseworkers, to be phased in for new workers, and the immediate hire of 50 investigative caseworkers and 50 special investigators to ensure timely face-to-face contact with children following an allegation of abuse or neglect.
Announcing the recommendations, senate finance committee chair Jane Nelson said: “This is the first step of a continuing effort, but rest assured we will do everything we can to protect children. There is no issue of greater importance.” Governor Greg Abbott, lieutenant governor Dan Patrick and house speaker Joe Straus called in October for urgent action to reform procedures at the crisis-hit child protective services agency.

Spotlight upon election results

ALL INCUMBENT members of Texas’ US congressional delegation won re-election
on November 8.
In the two contests for open house-of-representatives seats, Democrat Vicente Gonzalez won the race for south Texas’ district 15 and Republican Jodey Arrington for west Texas’ district 19.
Gonzalez will succeed US representative Ruben Hinojosa, who is retiring, while Arrington will succeed US representative Randy Neugebauer, who is also retiring.
Democrat challengers bested four incumbent Republican state representatives.
In Houston-area district 144, one-term state representative Gilbert Pena lost by nearly 21 percentage points
to Democrat Mary Ann Perez, an insurance agent and former state representative who was elected to the district seat in 2012 and lost to Pena in 2014. The district includes parts of east Houston, half of South Houston and parts of Pasadena and Baytown.
Three-term state representative Kenneth Sheets lost a close Dallas-area district 107 race to Democrat Victoria Neave, an attorney and community advocate, while one-term state representative Rick Galindo lost by two percentage points to Democrat Philip Cortez in San-Antonio-area district 117.
And state representative John Lujan, who won a special election in January 2016 to succeed retiring San-Antonio-area district 118 representative Joe Farias, lost by 10 percentage points to Democrat Tomas Uresti.
In the senate, Houston Democrat and current state representative Borris Miles won the race to succeed his party’s retiring longtime district 13 senator Rodney Ellis with 92.5 per cent of the vote. The district includes parts of Harris County and Fort Bend County.
In a non-legislative race, former state representative Wayne Christian, a Republican, won a seat on the three-member Texas railroad commission with 53 per cent of the vote.

Tax rebates up slightly

THE AMOUNT of money being refunded to the state’s local-government bodies as their share of sales-tax revenues this month is greater than last November’s sum, but only just.
Texas public-accounts comptroller Glenn Hegar announced on November 9 that he will be sending cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $737.9 million in local sales-tax allocations this month, 0.8 per cent more than in November last year.
The allocations are based on sales made in September by businesses that report tax monthly, and sales made in July, August and September by quarterly filers.