No Confidence, Poll Tax, Gone Fishing


No Confidence, Poll Tax, Gone Fishing
Jeremy Wilson

No Confidence

The San Antonio Police Officers Association (SAPOA), which is involved in a prolonged collective bargaining fight with the City of San Antonio, is opposed to reforming police practices.

The news broke last week when SAPOA President Mike Helle announced that the union will hold a "no confidence" vote targeting San Antonio Police Department Chief William McManus, who is reforming some use-of-force policies as recommended by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).

"A 'no confidence' vote is a clear message the Chief of Police has lost the trust of those he was chosen to lead," Helle says in a press release. "This vote was demanded by the membership and the SAPOA leadership agreed it was necessary to send a clear message to the City Council that we no longer have faith in the Chief of Police to implement policies that take care of police officers and their families."

The move comes after McManus issued an indefinite suspension for SAPD officer John Lee, who shot and killed Antroine Scott, an unarmed black man, on February 4 while serving warrants against the man. The chief reversed course on his decision Monday, rescinding the punishment.

During both his tenures (the chief left the post 2014, but unexpectedly returned in 2015), McManus worked to increase police transparency through an open data initiative, reformed the department's once dangerous pursuit policy, worked toward equipping the entire force with body cameras and, most recently, explored implementation of PERF reforms in an attempt to make the SAPD a model police force.

The "no confidence" vote will be concluded by Friday, according to SAPOA.

Poll Tax

A controversial Texas voter identification law that requires the civic-minded to present photo identification at their polling places is heading to a federal appeals court.

Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement that he looks forward to presenting the case.

"Today's decision is a strong step forward in our efforts to defend the state's Voter ID laws," Paxton said. "Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is a primary function of state government and is essential to preserving our democratic process."

Numerous groups disagree, alleging the law actually discriminates against Hispanics and African-Americans. Last August, a three-judge panel ruled that the law does have a discriminatory effect but is not a poll tax. The panel kicked the case to a lower court that previously ruled it was a poll tax to work out the problems. Paxton, however, asked the full court to hear the case, and though a date hasn't been set for the hearing, he's going to get his wish.

Gone Fishing

Climate-denier extraordinaire Lamar Smith, an esteemed representative from Texas and chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, continues his crusade against the abominable scientists looking to undermine the American dream.

Since early 2015, Smith has tried to trump science and bolster his tea party credentials by slashing funding to NASA and subpoenaing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Kathryn Sullivan in an attempt to seek information about how scientists use global temperature data to measure climate change while accusing the academics of fudging data.

Well, Smith is at it again.

In late February, he sent a letter to NOAA broadening his request for documents. He wants NOAA to send him any documents that contain 17 search terms, including "buoy," "ship," "Obama," "regulations" and more.

All this despite a letter by Andrew A. Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy, who wrote a letter to Smith, representing 450,000 people in the Union of Concerned Scientists — members and supporters — asking Smith to stop.

"To protect the independence of its scientists, we believe that NOAA is justified in resisting this new demand," Rosenberg wrote. "Further, it is our hope that you will decide to stop this burdensome and unwarranted fishing expedition by rescinding your latest inquiry, as well as withdrawing your original subpoena."

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