Nearly 40 Detention Officers Disciplined in the Case of Man Trapped in Feces-Covered Cell For Weeks

Categories: Crime

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KTRK/screenshot
Last fall Channel 13 published photos from a whistleblower showing the squalid conditions in Terry Goodwin's jail cell.
More than six months ago, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia told reporters he was "damn mad" upon learning that a mentally ill inmate at his jail had been confined in a squalid, feces-covered cell for weeks on end. Today, heads rolled at the sheriff's office.

Garcia announced on Friday that he's fired six jail supervisors, including two jail sergeants who have already been indicted on felony charges of tampering with government records. Garcia says he's also suspended 29 employees, ranging from detention officers to sergeants and deputies, without pay from anywhere between one and ten days. One other jail commander has been relieved of duty and demoted, while Chief Deputy Fred Brown, who oversees jail operations, has agreed to resign, Garcia announced.

Ultimately, Garcia said guards isolated Terry Goodwin in a bug-infested cell with mounds of trash and feces clogging the sink, toilet and shower drain in a "poor attempt not to engage in a physical confrontation" with the inmate.

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Texas Republicans Are Still Trying to Chip Away at Abortion Rights

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Photo by Francisco Montes
Last session, the GOP-dominated Legislature successfully decimated abortion access across the state. We're still waiting on the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to make a decision on the legal challenge to HB 2, which Wendy Davis famously filibustered before Rick Perry called a second special session to pass the bill, ushering in sweeping restrictions that have already closed more than half of abortion clinics in Texas.

Depending on how things shake out at the Fifth Circuit, there could soon be as few as eight abortion clinics for a state of 27 million people. About one million Texas women would live at least 150 miles away from the nearest abortion provider, effectively cutting off access for poor women who don't live in one of the state's urban areas.

Poor women who want an abortion? Check. Next on the list for Texas Republicans: Cutting off access to vulnerable teenagers and women who seek an abortion under incredibly dire circumstances.

Twice this month committees have heard bills drafted by Republican lawmakers to greatly restrict the process known as judicial bypass, in which minors can petition a judge to get an abortion if either their parents won't consent or if the girls have reason to fear for their safety. Then, in an unexpected move on the House floor Thursday, a Republican lawmaker successfully crammed language into an unrelated bill that would end the exception to the state's ban on abortions after 20 weeks if it's discovered a fetus has severe abnormalities -- medical conditions that aren't typically detected until later in a pregnancy.

For pro-choice advocates, the hits just keep on coming at the Lege. "HB 2 devastated access to safe and legal abortion across the state, but that wasn't enough for the anti-choice zealots in the Texas Legislature," Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, said in a statement earlier this month. "Now they're trying to pile on even more regulations and restrictions that would make access to a safe and legal medical procedure almost impossible for many Texans to obtain."

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Obama Cracks "Deflate-Gate" Joke on Patriots During White House Visit (w/ VIDEO)

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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YouTube
Jokester-in-Chief
There was a time for the New England Patriots, back during the dawning of this new millennium from the 2001 through 2004 football seasons, when visits to the White House became old hat.

My radio cohost Ted Johnson was a starting inside linebacker on those first three Patriots Super Bowl champion teams back then, and he jokes about how he became fast friends with then President George W. Bush, working his way to not just a first name basis but a nickname basis.

Back then, the Patriots thought these visits would become a regular thing. However, it turns out they needed another decade (not to mention a miracle interception from cornerback Malcolm Butler) to get back onto the White House lawn.

The most recent trip for the Patriots happened yesterday, and who knew that in a decade the champions' visit to meet the commander in chief had evolved (devolved?) from a cordial round of coffee and pie (figuratively) to a Hollywood roast?

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The Astros (and Evan Gattis) Are Out to Redefine the Meaning of the Designated Hitter

Categories: Sports

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Evan Gattis is just a pawn in the Astros attempt to change baseball as we know it
The Houston Astros front office is comprised of geniuses, including a former rocket scientist. Billy Beane's "Moneyball" strategy is all well and good, but what the Astros are doing puts Beane to shame.

Take this past offseason when the Astros traded highly touted minor league prospects Rio Ruiz and Mike Foltynewicz to the Atlanta Braves for Evan Gattis. Ruiz was a third baseman who some felt had yet to live up to his potential while Foltynewicz was a fireballing reliever who often hit 100-plus on the radar gun but had a few issues with control. Gattis meanwhile was a strikeout prone, mediocre catcher/outfielder who hit home runs. It made no sense to many observers that the Astros, a rebuilding team, would trade highly regarded prospects for a guy who was essentially just another version of Chris Carter and Jon Singleton.

But three weeks into the season, the genius of the Astros should now be obvious to every person possessing even the slightest knowledge of baseball. The Astros brass is redefining the meaning of the "designated hitter," obviously with the hopes that the rest of organized baseball will follow in lockstep, thus forcing baseball to do away with the position forever and ever and restoring the pitcher to the batting order for the rest of time, doomed to flail away at-bat after at-bat after at-bat.

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HISD Threatens Kids Who Opt Out of STAAR Testing With Summer School

Categories: Education

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Photo courtesy of HISD
Daniel Gohl, defender of the faith
Parents of children in the Houston ISD were told by letter Thursday that there will be "negative consequences" (HISD's emphasis) for any student who doesn't show for next week's state of Texas standardized tests for grades 3-8 next week.

A letter signed by Daniel Gohl, HISD's special assistant, academics, says that anyone planning on joining the opt-out test movement -- by, say, not showing up for school during testing -- would do well to think again.

"There is no 'option' to permit your child to opt-out of STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) Testing," he wrote (again, boldfaced parts are Gohl's) before going on to threaten kids who don't test with weeks of summer school.

Across the country these days, an increasing number of parents are rejecting the interminable standardized testing going on in most public schools. The notion that enough is enough has gained sufficient traction that even school board members and legislators are taking up the too-much-testing cause.

But HISD, which uses results from STAAR testing as part of its teacher evaluations, is standing firm. Gohl says students who don't take the test are subject to the following"

-- They'll get a zero score and be deemed non-proficient.

-- Those who are absent will take a make-up test. If the parents put a request in writing that the student be allowed to opt out of the test or the make-up test, the Texas Education Agency will be notified and the score will be reported as zero.

-- Students who don't take the test will not automatically be promoted to the next grade. They will have to attend summer school and be re-evaluated by a committee at the end of the summer for promotion or retention, his letter threatens promises.

Response was equally swift from Ruth Kravetz of Community Voices for Public Education who sent out her own emailed letter detailing tactics parents can employ to skip the tests as well as "a quick summary of errors in the opt out letter HISD sent HISD parents today as an intimidation tactic."


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Former Texan Andre Johnson: Move to Indy "A Breath of Fresh Air"

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Photo by Eric Sauceda
Apparently the grass is greener...
The dissolution of long-term relationships is a complicated thing. They tend to fall into two categories.

On the one side, you have the bitter breakup, after which both sides wish the interpersonal equivalent of a plague on the other party's house. Those vitriolic breakups are raw, but honest. Then on the other side, you have the cordial breakup, where both parties figuratively shake hands and wish the other party the best of luck. Roughly, 98 percent of the cordial breaker-uppers are liars.

Practically everyone privately hopes that their significant other's next slew of relationships fail miserably because we all want to cling to some idealistic notion that we were "their best" (even if, for many of us, being the best at anything is a virtual impossibility).

I say all of this to lead up to our first update on former Texan Andre Johnson, who broke up with the Texans back in March, and with whom many of you out there tried to conduct a cordial breakup when it all went down.


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Dallas Cowboy Greg Hardy Suspended 10 Games for Domestic Violence Incident

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Shea Huening via Flickr
Wow, it was a rough Wednesday for the city of Dallas. Of course, there was the 24 hour period where the Rockets shoved the Mavericks to within a half step of falling into the NBA playoff canyon, and then the team essentially fired its point guard (for whom they traded three players, two draft picks, and a nearly $13 million trade exception). That was fun.

Of course, you had to know that Jerry Jones wasn't going to let Mark Cuban have all of the fun, right? No way. The Cowboys had to get in on some of the fun.

And so it was that on Wednesday, the newest Dallas Cowboy, defensive end and noted domestic abuser Greg Hardy was slapped with a 10 game suspension by the NFL for the physical abuse of his girlfriend last year when Hardy was a member of the Carolina Panthers.

The details of the NFL's two month investigation confirm some pretty shocking details of the incident between Hardy and his then girlfriend Nicole Holder. From the Twitter feed of Yahoo! Sports' Rand Getlin:

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Fight Club at HCC: More Allegations Spill Out in College's Lawsuit Against Former General Counsel

Categories: Courts, Education

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photo by WhisperToMe via creative commons
First rule of Fight Club: don't talk about Fight Club.
If you believe Renee Byas, the Houston Community College Board of Trustees had devolved into a den of iniquity during her tenure at the school.

In court filings made this week in the drawn-out legal fight between Byas, the former general counsel fired by HCC last summer, and the multi-million dollar community college system, Byas outlines some explosive allegations against current and former members of the HCC board, including:

-- "How an HCC Trustee had taken free trips to places such as the Caribbean with an HCC vendor on the vendor's plane."

-- "How three HCC Trustees had entered into an agreement with an individual that the three Trustees would convince the HCC Board of Trustees to buy property from the individual and, in exchange, the three Trustees would receive 10% of the money that HCC paid to the seller."

And...(here's the kicker):

-- "How during a closed session meeting an HCC Trustee had accused another Trustee of accepting bribes and kickbacks and how the accused Trustee started punching the accuser."


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The 10 Most Heroic Dogs in Houston

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo by the Harris County Sheriff's Office
Boomer and Tommy
Mankind's partnership with the dog goes back further than our written history. It has been us and the pooches against the world for a very, very long time. This week we're going to celebrate some of the great deeds done by our four-legged friends here in Houston.

Boomer and Tommy
The working dogs of the Harris County Sheriff's office are serious about crime busting. Two of the K-9 unit heavyweights, Boomer and Tommy, were nominated for the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards 2013 for their contributions to law enforcement in Houston. Boomer is the veteran, having been responsible for the seizure of more than $6 million worth of illegal drugs. Tommy is the up-and-comer, but has already been instrumental in cornering suspects, finding lost people and locating evidence in sexual assault cases.

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Rajon Rondo Is Done for the Playoffs With an "Injured Back"

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. Along the multiyear journey of building the 2014-15 Houston Rockets, general manager Daryl Morey has learned and relearned this lesson a handful of times.

Ultimately, after an offseason in which they swung and missed on numerous free agents, perhaps this season's Rockets will be the ultimate reinforcement of that adage. Either way, whether they win a title or not, it is undeniable that the Rockets should be thankful that any interest they had in Rajon Rondo back in December didn't turn into Rondo's becoming a Rocket.

The surly, truculent eighth year point guard is the Dallas Mavericks problem now, and on Tuesday, after a Game 2 in which Rondo obliterated every semblance of teamwork and winning culture, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle opted to put that problem in the freezer.

Per ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the news came down this afternoon:

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