Jackson Lee, Expert Testify At Redistricting Trial | KERA News

Jackson Lee, Expert Testify At Redistricting Trial

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and a redistricting expert say the political district map drawn by the Texas Legislature hurts minority seats.

Jackson Lee and Theodore Arrington testified Monday in Washington as a two-week trial resumed before a three-judge federal panel. The judges are trying to determine whether the new political map drawn by the Texas Legislature to reflect 2010 U.S. Census Data violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

Jackson Lee says she finds changes to her congressional district inexplicable, although it is still considered a safe Democratic seat.

Arrington testified as an expert witness for the Justice Department and several other minority groups opposing Texas' map. He says because so few Texas Democrats aren't minorities, many of the proposed changes in the new map could adversely affect minority office holders.


Attorney general asked court to clear voter ID

Attorney General Greg Abbott is asking a federal court to clear the way for the state's Voter ID law after the Department of Justice failed to clear it.

In a court case filed Monday, Abbott said the Obama administration was hostile to laws like the one passed last year in Texas, which requires voters to show a photo identification card in order to vote. Texas is one of 16 states where all changes to voting laws must first be cleared by the justice department or the Washington DC district court before they can go into effect.

Abbott is asking the court to clear the law because similar laws exist on other states and he says the Obama administration is taking too long to decide whether to clear the law.


Parents, officials decry new Texas school testing

Parents and community officials are expressing alarm about new, more-rigorous standardized testing for Texas school children.

Many are complaining about a provision allowing test results to represent 15 percent of grades for high school students.

Supporters say the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test will increase school accountability.

But during a five-hour meeting of the Texas House Public Education Committee on Monday, lawmakers raised concerns that some youngsters could see their grade point averages drop because their teachers didn't adequately prepare them for test.

Others quizzed school administrators on how they planned to evaluate test results - since doing so will be up to individual school districts.

Then lawmakers herd from the public, including parents clamoring that the tests could keep their children from getting into good colleges.


Dallas Looks To Change Rules For Door-To-Door Business

The Dallas City Council may change the way people can solicit door-to-door, and what constitutes “litter”.

The city is proposing registration, background checks and name-tags for companies and their door-to-door workers. The move aims to address concerns that door-to-door solicitors could be casing homes for burglary later. Non-profits, like the Girl Scouts, are exempt.

City Council member Angela Hunt says the anti-litter part of the new ordinance would address another concern she hears about frequently.

Hunt: I’ve got a lot of residents who also complain about newspapers getting thrown in their yards – these free newspapers that pile up. They’ve told me time and time again I’ve called a million times to the newspaper to request they not be thrown, but there are.

Hunt says throwing unsolicited papers in someone’s front yard would be illegal. Fines would run up to 500 dollars.

Council members will hold another briefing on the proposals before a final vote.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Animal Shelter “People” Crisis

The Dallas Animal Shelter Commission says last fall’s budget cuts and layoffs have seriously hurt shelter operations.

Commission Chairman Skip Trimble says a new director is on board, but lacks key staff members to adequately do the job.

Trimble: We do not have a manager for our entire operation, a permanent position: the same with administration. And then the next four middle management positions are vacant. Customer services reps, 60% of those positions are vacant.

Trimble told the City Council’s “Quality of Life” Committee he also questions the new “permanent” policy to use “temporary workers” in a large number of jobs at the shelter.

City officials say they’re working on a number of issues at the Shelter, and will have a progress report in the next month.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Parkland Sued Over Psychiatric Patient Death

Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center are being sued over the death of a psychiatric patient.

George Cornell died last year after being restrained in the Parkland Emergency Psych Unit.

His death lead to a hospital-wide inspection of Parkland. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that Cornell’s rights had been violated a number of times during his final moments.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Cornell’s mother echoes the federal findings.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Fort Worth Facility Will Paint Boeing's Dreamliners

Fort Worth’s Leading Edge Aviation Services has secured the contract to paint Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliners beginning in March.

Manager Tohnni Jones says the contract should employ about 100 people at the new facility, which is owned by one of the largest jet painters in the country. Jones says the Fort Worth operation also custom-finishes privately-owned, large jets. She says it’s one of just ten completion facilities in the world.

:16 Jones: As far as dollar wise, we’ll do more completion than paint eventually, in this facility. You know Boeing, Airbuses. Private individuals will bring us a Boeing 757 and it’ll have bedrooms, bathrooms. I mean, we turn them into flying, private one-owner yachts.

Jones says completing planes should employ another 80 workers skilled in 33 different crafts, from cabinet-making to upholstering. She says the Boeing contract should be good for at least two years.

Bill Zeeble, KERA News

Jury selection to continue in Stanford fraud trial

Jury selection has ended for the day in the oft-delayed trial of jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford, who is accused of bilking investors out of $7 billion in a vast Ponzi scheme.

A federal judge spent Monday questioning 80 potential jurors.

The judge said more time was needed and jury selection would resume Tuesday.

Opening statements are expected to start Tuesday afternoon.

Stanford's attorneys have said they expect him to testify.

Stanford was indicted more than 2 1/2 years ago, but his trial was delayed while he was treated at a prison hospital for an addiction to an anti-anxiety drug.

Prosecutors say Stanford funded a lavish lifestyle with the money of investors. His financial empire stretched from the U.S. to Latin America and the Caribbean.

He denies wrongdoing.


Tarrant Co. Woman Found Dead In Tanning Bed

Police in Sansom Park are waiting on the Tarrant County Medical Examiner to determine “cause of death” for a woman found in her tanning bed.

46 year Rhonda Waits was discovered early yesterday morning by her boyfriend after he returned from a trip.

Police say they do not suspect foul play, and that Waits was taking several prescription medicines.

BJ Austin, KERA News

Owner Of Counterfeit Label Apparel Sentenced To Prison

The owner of a Dallas-based “counterfeit clothing” business is going to prison for a year-and-a-half. 40 year old Joven Joven has also been ordered to pay more than 135 thousand dollars in restitution.

Court documents say Joven tracked down, ordered, advertised and sold counterfeit labels on his company’s website and other online “stores.” He pleaded guilty of to one count of trafficking in counterfeit trademarks.

Investigators say a search of Joven’s Frisco home turned up 33 boxes of counterfeit apparel and jewelry. He told admitted to investigators that all of that merchandise was “fake.”

BJ Austin, KERA News