Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spouses

In order to begin to understand how things work around here, it's critical to look carefully at family relationships and understand who's related to who. The best and most important place to start is usually with spouses. To illustrate this, I'll give you some general examples of the kinds of things to look for.

First, look for what I call the "Fredericksburg spouse". In the last few years, the Kerrville police chief was replaced with one whose wife has family ties to Fredericksburg. Ditto for the editor of the main Kerrville newspaper. Ditto for the local state senator (same county, anyway), who ousted an incumbent who said he had absolute proof of serious election fraud, filed a lawsuit, and then suddenly and abruptly dropped it. (Now go back and read or re-read my "They Do What?" post of 3/30/10.)

Next, look closely at what spouses do for a living. For example, one of the spouses of one of the owners of a phone number that turned up as part of an illegal charge to my phone bill (see "Phone Bill Blues", posted here earlier) turned out to have been a law school professor at a school with a strong focus on anti-terrorism law and high-level national contacts, which I found interesting. Another example: many years ago, I was told by numerous people that the wife of the Fredericksburg police chief (pictured in the previous post) had a job running errands for a well-known movie producer who has a ranch nearby and that many of these errands involved trips to the Fredericksburg airport. (The Fredericksburg police chief and his wife are no longer married.) Also, assets seem to be transferred freely and frequently between spouses around here, often using their business or workplaces.

Then there are the more complicated spousal relationships; for an example of this, I will use one I know a great deal about because it affects me personally. A married couple (and various members of their families) own a tract of land near mine that is being developed, even though much of it is taken up by a deep gully and a large overhead power line. The husband is a civil engineer who works for a local construction company, the owners of which own considerable valuable property close to mine. The owners of this construction company have also been represented for many years by a law partner of my former father-in-law's and brother-in-law's (who recently suddenly left their firm). The husband was recently elected to the local school board, where my former brother-in-law has served in the past.

The wife happens to be in the same business as my ex-husband and works in an office next door to my ex-husband's. Another woman who works in her office building has direct ties to a murder victim and a victim of a suspicious death. The property on the opposite side of the couple's tract from mine was the location of another suspicious death in 2003.

Are you still with me? I know it's complicated, but at the same time, I hope you are starting to see that if you fail to consider both spouses, you end up with a two-dimensional understanding of the situation instead of a three-dimensional one. This framework becomes critically important for true understanding when you then begin adding in additional information. In this case, it turns out there is an additional tract of land located between my land and the couple's that I only became aware of about nine months ago. It's ownership doesn't seem to be available anywhere, and it is not down in the gully or under the power line and is in fact the property where some of my children say their father showed them blueprints of office buildings he was planning to build there in the summer of 2006.

Now I have a final piece of information to add to this complex example: in the last six months or so. "For Sale" signs have gone up on nearly all the properties I've just mentioned: the property owned by the couple, the property beyond it where one of the owners was found shot to death, the property owned by the construction company family, and additional property adjoining mine, including the house formerly owned by the city and more recently the location of some sort of "mystery business" that I've discussed before. Significantly, the only piece of property I've mentioned currently without a "For Sale" sign on it happens to be the tract with the unknown owner along our fence line (the one the blueprints my kids saw were for). Three other small tracts adjoining my property that are owned by my ex-husband also do not have "For Sale" signs on them at the present time.

This is only one example of how complicated interrelationships play out around here, and it tends to get even more complex when you start looking at family members other than spouses. However, these are the things you must research in order to understand the inner workings of this region and to try to obtain relief and justice for victims here.

[If you are new to my blog, I strongly suggest you take the time to go to the beginning and read "My Story".]

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fredericksburg Police Chief


This old photo of the current Fredericksburg police chief was published in the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post's July 9, 2008 edition.

Years ago, I was told that this man had worked as an undercover narcotics officer but was fired by the DEA for using and stealing cocaine. I was also told he was sent to some sort of rehab. program.

A few years later, he was appointed police chief after having been recommended by a Texas Ranger who had headed the DPS's state Criminal Investigations unit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Texas Ranger Heritage Center

One of the biggest controversies swirling around Central Texas these days concerns why the Former Texas Ranger Foundation suddenly announced they were scrapping previous plans to build a "Texas Ranger Heritage Center" on land they owned in Kerrville and would be building the facility in Fredericksburg instead. All sorts of accusations and blame have been flying back and forth between various entities involved in the situation, and I don't really feel I have enough of the most critical information I'd need to weigh in effectively at this time.

Here's what I do know. The Texas Rangers were started by Stephen F. Austin in 1823, making them the oldest law enforcement agency in North America. The Rangers, who have a rich historic (and often controversial) past, are now an elite part of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TX DPS). In 1982, the Texas Ranger Association Foundation was created to assist Rangers and their families in times of need, provide scholarships for the children of Rangers, perpetuate the history of the Rangers, and help run the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, the official historical center of the Texas Rangers. This organization has sponsored official reunions and fundraisers for years and is run by a statewide board consisting of representatives from all of the Ranger companies. It has an outstanding reputation statewide as far as I know, having given substantial financial aid to qualifying individuals over the years, doing a fine job of caring for the Waco museum, and preserving and publishing Ranger history.

The group planning to build the Texas Rangers Heritage Center, first in Kerrville and now in Fredericksburg, is called the Former Texas Rangers Foundation (FTRF) and is separate from the Texas Ranger Association Foundation. According to a recent press release, the center the FTRF plans to build in Fredericksburg will have 41,350 square feet of space. It will contain 5 galleries, including a Ranger Ring of Honor (a memorial to Rangers who've died in the line of duty) and an auditorium that will also be available for community use. The planned center will house historical artifacts and documents and will serve as the headquarters of the FTRF.

The FTRF has been holding major fundraisers such as galas and golf tournaments for the past decade in the Kerrville area for their planned center, and they had purchased 15 acres on Texas 173 across from the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville to build it on. According to their head, Joe Davis, the foundation has raised $5.4 million for the project.

Various local newspaper accounts say certain (but notably not all) Kerrville city officials began hearing last summer that foundation officials were thinking about moving their planned center to Fredericksburg. Various Kerrville officials say they repeatedly informed the FTRF about the steps necessary for applying for various financial and other incentives that were available but that the foundation would not follow any of the application procedures and never even submitted any building plans.

In March of this year, the FTRF announced they'd decided to build their Texas Rangers Heritage Center in Fredericksburg instead. Fredericksburg offered the foundation a package that included 7.1 acres of land adjacent to Fort Martin Scott, water, sewer, and electric service to the site, and to pay the bills for any necessary archaeological studies. Kerrville donors who'd supported the project faithfully for years under the assumption they were supporting a Kerrville project were upset, as you can imagine.

Kerrville officials began suddenly spreading information that had been previously reported by the San Antonio newspaper, namely that the FTRF was ranked second in the nation for inefficiency in its fundraising efforts by nonprofit watchdog group charitynavigator.org, spending $1.54 for every $1.00 raised. Sandra Miniutti, charitynavigator.org vice president, was quoted in the March 6-7 edition of the Kerrville Daily Times as saying, "Personally, I would not give to this organization." Kerrville officials claim the foundation never gave them an official explanation for the sudden move. There hasn't been any announcement about what will happen to the Kerrville property now, either, except that Davis says it's "currently being appraised". The FTRF says they hope to begin construction within the next 12 months, "although economic factors could delay the start of construction" (quoted from the 3/3/10 edition of the Kerrville Daily Times).

Now here are some of the things I don't know but want very much to find out. The first time I drove by the Kerrville property purchased by the FTRF along the Guadalupe River and saw their sign, I immediately noticed that it appeared to lie within the river's floodplain. Yes, the property is in a great location for tourism, being directly opposite the entrance to the well-established Western Art Museum, but the museum is also considerably uphill. I want to know whether any floodplain/drainage studies were done when the foundation purchased this property and what the results were. I'd also like to know who the foundation purchased the property from and how much they paid for it.

As people who've lived here for any length of time will tell you, flood and drainage information for property here is crucial, because there's so little soil for rainwater to soak into that it generally only goes up. Our usually dry climate is notorious for tricking people into thinking it's safe to build close to our beautiful rivers and streams, until one of our occasional "gullywashers" suddenly makes them realize it's not. Early settlers in this region quickly learned (often after watching their homes and businesses wash away) to walk a fine line between building close enough to the water that they wouldn't have to carry it far and far enough away to be safe when it floods.

My own personal opinion on the matter (which you can take for whatever it's worth) is that the property the FTRF bought and said they intended to build on in Kerrville looked too low. In fact, after I saw it, I emailed both the Texas Rangers and our local San Antonio reporter to ask whether the floodplain situation with regard to the property had ever been checked out. (I never received any replies.) Note that a good deal of the property both up- and downstream from the foundation's tract is currently in use as parkland precisely because it does tend to flood (and, interestingly, much of the rest of it now has new construction).

I also want very much to know why the Texas Rangers want another museum so badly when they already have a well-established one in Waco. In fact, the Texas Rangers Association Foundation also seems to be questioning this, because they wrote a lengthy letter to the Kerrville Daily Times (published in the March 20-21 issue) putting as much distance between themselves and the FTRF as possible. I'm confused about why the FTRF says specifically in their press release they want the new facility to house historical documents and artifacts when I thought these were kept at the Waco museum--why split them up?

There's no doubt that the new site proposed for the FTRF center is very tourist-friendly, being located next to an established historic attraction (Fort Martin Scott) and just outside the "tourist Mecca" of Fredericksburg--see also my "They Do What?" post from 3/30/10 below. (Notably, the new site also happens to be somewhat topographically low.)

There's also no doubt that a lot of Texas Rangers and other very high-level TX DPS officials retire here. In fact, a former Ranger who headed the entire criminal investigations division of the TX DPS came back to our town (where he'd grown up with my former father-in-law) to be our police chief and live in a house owned by my ex-husband's family. (This man has since passed away, but not before personally recommending our current police chief, also a lifelong close friend of my ex-husband's family.)

Finally, I need to note here that my children and I have often noticed we are being followed by retired Rangers or other persons connected with the TX DPS. Many of these people don't seem to realize that over the years we've gradually learned who they are and what they are doing. They certainly don't seem to care that what they are doing to us constitutes stalking and/or illegal surveillance, since their backgrounds in law enforcement mean they know what they're doing is illegal. What would Walker say??

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Items Of Interest


I have three items of interest to mention today. The first is the physical item shown here that we found laying in the middle of the doormat that sits directly in front of our front door. Whoever left it neatly centered on the mat had to have trespassed on our property in order to do so.

My second item worthy of note is a very brief (a few seconds or less) news item broadcast by one of the local stations over the lunch hour today. The newscaster said that a man had been arrested on terrorism charges in San Antonio, which caused me to look up at the television from what I was doing, since that's not exactly an everyday occurrence around here. What looked like a page from an indictment was flashed up on the screen just long enough for me to notice a couple of highlighted portions. One of these appeared to be the man's name, a Muslim-sounding one. The other highlighted portion I managed to see before the camera left it said something like "part of a very large-scale smuggling operation", and I think the newscaster also said something about this. The whole item was gone before I could make out or hear anything else, which seemed strange for what had sounded like a major news story. We watched the newscasts at dinnertime and again at 10 PM, but we never saw or heard anything more about this story, which seems even stranger than the story itself. (We do get a surprising number of stories handled in similar ways to this that seem to be more attempts to tip certain people off than actual news reports.)

The third item I'd like to mention is that Jeff Vanvonderen of the A&E show "Intervention" is in San Antonio to host a town meeting at Trinity University tomorrow night. He's scheduled to screen an episode of the show and then hold a discussion about the prevalence of heroin here. At least one young victim is scheduled to speak about her experiences, and questions will be answered at the end. According to promos for this meeting, Mr. Vanvonderen intends to address the problem of drug dealers here deliberately targeting young people in our area, which has long been a concern of mine as well.

Update: In the next morning's San Antonio Express-News, there was a "mini-article" about the accused smuggler discussed above. The man in question is a Somali with alleged ties to Islamic terrorist groups. Apparently he was taken into U.S. custody in March 2008 in Brownsville and later sought asylum. What we saw on t.v. yesterday was probably new charges that have been brought against him for failing to disclose that he ran a large-scale immigrant smuggling ring. There's no explanation for where he was or what he was doing between 2008 and now, and we didn't see or hear anything more about this tonight.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Slaps On The Wrist

An editorial by Gloria Padilla published in today's San Antonio Express-News reveals that one of the current candidates for Bexar County district attorney was arrested in 1994 for selling 200 Ecstasy pills worth $3,600 to an undercover officer at a gentlemen's club in San Antonio. According to Ms. Padilla, this "ambitious young lawyer from a respected and politically connected family" received a quick deferred adjudication, a probated $1,000 fine, and 320 hours of community service that included performing as a Lebanese folk dancer at his church and the local Folklife Festival. Seventeen months later, he asked for early termination of his probation. Eight years ago, he graduated from law school and became a criminal defense attorney. Apparently a hearing is set for this Monday on a court order signed shortly after the lawyer announced his candidacy that sealed an attempt in 1999 to expunge his record. This candidate happens to be the son of "Lawyer 3" that I discussed here previously on 2/9/10. He is also the brother of a murder victim.

I've been encouraged by all the recent letters to the editor in local papers concerning the recent plea deals of former district judge Karl Prohl and former district attorney Ron Sutton, both of whom took deals for stealing from public funds. Like me, most of the letter-writers are outraged that neither of these former public officials will have to serve any jail time for their crimes, despite having violated the trust of those they were elected to serve and having been involved in the sentencing of many to jail terms and other harsher penalties for crimes far less serious. There is also public outrage over the fact that Judge Prohl was allowed to resign from the bench just before being charged so he could keep his public pension and resolve the judicial complaint against him.

Monday, May 10, 2010

True Logic

Beginning sometime in 2004 (I can't remember exactly when), I began receiving numerous automated calls on my cell phone from a company called True Logic Financial Corporation. These calls came daily to every few days and at all hours, so they were annoying to the point of being harassment. Worse, the message that played when I answered these calls or checked my voice mail said they were from a collection agency I owned money to, when I knew this wasn't the case. Sometimes the messages included a phone number I was supposed to call, but when I tried to do this and/or return the original call, I got only more recorded messages about either paying what I (supposedly) owned or asking for my account information, which of course I didn't have.

I received these calls for about 18 months with no relief because I couldn't even speak with a live person about them and never received anything in writing from them that I could respond to. Finally in April of 2006, I located True Logic's website on the internet and emailed them a complaint about the calls, explaining that I was certain I did not even have an account with them and threatening to go to the authorities if the calls didn't stop.

It wasn't long after I sent this email that a live person from True Logic finally called me. The customer service representative told me their records showed the account of a different person was listed with my phone number, and he asked me if I knew this person. I recognized the name he gave me immediately as that of a woman who worked with my ex-husband, as I explained to the representative. I also told him I'd had a lot of trouble for many years with people associated with my ex-husband harassing me in various ways, and I made it clear that I expected True Logic to stop participating in this.

The representative did a little more checking. He said this woman owed money on an account somewhere that had been turned over to his company and that she'd given True Logic my cell phone number as her own contact number. He apologized to me, assured me he was taking immediate steps to correct their records, and promised me the calls from True Logic to my cell phone would stop. Thankfully, they did. (Later, I learned True Logic was under investigation by the Texas Attorney General's office for some reason.)

I thought that was the end of the matter, but in January of 2007 I started receiving calls from a company called Jefferson Capital. This time it was much easier to connect with a real person at the company, and I quickly discovered that the same woman had again given my cell phone number as her own to people she owed money to. I explained the situation and told them she'd done this to me before, after which I received no further calls from them.

Over the years, I have seen the woman who did all this to me harassing us in many other ways: sitting in various vehicles in front of our house (either alone or with friends), speeding through our driveway (which is trespassing), following us, etc. This woman's husband used to work at one of the funeral homes in our town. I believe he was the same person who was found dead under suspicious circumstances a few years ago whose death was ruled a suicide.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Phone Bill Blues






During the summer of 2005, I began noticing charges on our monthly phone bills that weren't ours. These charges were immediately noticeable on our bills because they were from AT&T, whereas our service was through Verizon. Every time they turned up, I immediately called the toll-free number provided and got the AT&T charges removed, but they when they kept appearing and actually increased in number, I began trying to get AT&T to do something about getting them stopped for good. It took me over 6 months and a great many phone calls (including long periods on hold!) to finally put a stop to these charges, so it was a major hassle to have to deal with.

Over the course of all those phone calls and discussions with numerous AT&T and Verizon representatives, I was able to learn a little bit about what was going on. I was told all of the calls in question were made with an AT&T calling card that had been issued to "Panhandle Groundwater Conservation Distribution". (The calls being fraudulently charged to our number finally stopped when AT&T cancelled this card.) Many of the calls in question had been made from a payphone at the Armstrong County Courthouse in White Deer, Texas (a place I've never been that is near Amarillo). While these calls had been made to locations all over Texas, a number of them were made to either pharmacies or local physicians. Other than the local doctors and a few general place names, I did not recognize any of the callers or callees.

I'm posting examples of some of these bills here now because I feel the need to protect myself. At the end of one of my recent posts here, my ex-husband suddenly tried to falsely tie me to Amarillo, TX for some reason. (See the comments at the bottom of my "Cinderella Gone Wrong" post. I'm positive about these comments being from my ex- because of both the writing style and the content.) I'm concerned because the phone calls that were falsely charged to our number show signs of being related to drug trafficking. I'm also concerned because one of my children received an extremely important and personal letter they weren't expecting today that happened to be from Amarillo. This letter arrived having clearly been opened and tampered with illegally by persons unknown.

My phone bill blues plus Amarillo (the Spanish word for yellow) probably equal a lot of green for someone, but it's not me. No doubt someone thought it would be amusing to illegally charge these calls to my (unlisted) number.

The Texas Civil Rights Project









Late in 2007 when it had become obvious we would not be able to find proper legal representation through normal means, I emailed the highly-regarded Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) and asked for their help. I received an emailed response from them telling me they did not accept cases by email, fax, or mail. I was told to call a certain Austin number at a certain time on any Thursday to speak with one of their intake clerks about our case.

The very next Thursday, I did just that. I discussed our case at length with a very nice young man who said he was a law student doing a volunteer internship with TCRP. He seemed sympathetic to our plight and said he would present our case at their weekly intake meeting later that afternoon. I was encouraged by this because he had questioned me extensively and asked all the right things.

It was disappointing then to receive a certified letter back from TCRP saying they couldn't help us. The intake clerk I'd talked to did call me back and suggest I contact two different private lawyers, one of whom was a prominent civil rights attorney at U. of TX. However, the contact information he gave me for both of them was incorrect, the U. of TX lawyer wouldn't return my phone calls or emails, and the second lawyer had apparently left Texas.

I both mailed and emailed a letter back to TCRP documenting my extensive search for proper legal representation and explained the seriousness and urgency of our situation. (A copy of this letter is posted here.) I then received back a short email from the same intake clerk (but sent from a Yahoo address rather than from TCRP) asking me to call him back, which I did. He said he wanted to present our case to the intake committee again but with a different focus, and he asked me some more questions. I offered to fax him documentation, but he said TCRP did not accept faxed material.

Later, he called me back to say our case had been turned down again by TCRP, and he seemed angry and frustrated about this. He gave me the names and contact information of three more prominent Texas law professors at various schools (all private schools this time) and suggested I contact them for help; he also coached me on what to say to them. I emailed all three immediately. One professor said he couldn't help us, one apparently had already blocked my email, and the third never responded to my repeated attempts to contact him. I reported back to the TCRP intake clerk about my lack of success, and he responded that he was talking to the Texas Advocacy Project about finding us legal help and would get back to me--but he never did. [I'll discuss the Texas Advocacy Project at a later date.] He did give me some additional suggestions (shown here), but none of these panned out, either.

After not hearing anything further back from anyone, receiving more communications from Ed Hodges' lawyer that I didn't know how to deal with because the kids and I still had no one to represent or advise us, and having a particularly upsetting day with regard to harassment, I emailed a long letter to TCRP expressing my frustrations and again asking them to help us (copy shown here). There was no response until the following May, when I received a brief email from the intake clerk saying he was no longer volunteering with TCRP.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The ACLU






In April of 2006, I sent a formal request for help regarding obtaining proper legal representation to the ACLU of Texas after I realized we probably weren't going to be able to get the help we needed through normal channels.

After more than a year had gone by, I'd been misrepresented by another lawyer, I'd been defrauded by Diop Kamau, we'd discovered we were definitely under illegal surveillance and could document this, we were now being threatened by Diop Kamau and the local police in various ways, and the DOJ wouldn't do anything about any of it, I frantically faxed an emergency request for help to both the Texas and U.S. ACLU offices begging them to help us. Again they did not respond.

By January of 2008, we still hadn't found anyone to come to our rescue and our situation had continued to worsen. I tried emailing the Texas ACLU to see if I could find out why they hadn't responded and received an email in reply telling me they now had a web form they preferred I use to make another formal request for assistance, so I went to this and submitted my request online.

About a month later, I received the card shown here from the Texas ACLU that again informed me of the need to use their new web form for all requests for assistance, even though I'd already done this. The card was mailed to our address, but as you can see, the name of the person it was addressed to was someone else. Also, I don't know if it makes any difference or not, but the card had also been mailed from a different zip code than the one where the ACLU office was located.

Although I haven't posted them here as well, I received additional copies of this same card in July of 2008 and September of 2008. The only differences between these and the first card were that my name had been corrected on the address and the words "No Web Access" had been added on the back. I assumed this might have been added because I had previously told the ACLU our computer and fax machine were being illegally monitored and had provided them with documentation of this, so I also submitted requests for help in writing.

In December of 2008, I finally received a response from the TX ACLU. As shown here, they refused to help us in any way. (They also got the date of the request I'd faxed wrong.)

In May of 2009, I received a letter from the New York ACLU telling me they could not help us because we lived in Texas, not New York, and that we needed to request assistance from the ACLU of Texas instead. I assume this was in response to my fax to the ACLU's national headquarters, which is also in New York, although I'm positive I did send my request to the national and not the state office there. (I can also provide a copy of this letter, although I'm not posting it here.)

I believe it's important that I post this information on my dealings with the ACLU here in order to document them. We fall under ACLU guidelines very clearly for several different reasons, and numerous other persons and agencies I've dealt with have asked why I haven't gone to the ACLU first. (One organization, Equality Now, said they would try to intervene with the ACLU on our behalf, but I never heard anything back from this.) At the very least, both the state and the national ACLU offices have stalled repeatedly regarding our case. Depending on the reasons why the Texas ACLU sent me the card with the wrong name on it, the national office tried to make it look as if I'd contacted the wrong office, and other actions (or inactions) of theirs, their treatment of me may cross the lines of professionalism and propriety.

We continue to hope the national ACLU will decide to help us, particularly with regard to getting the illegal surveillance of us (which we know is continuing) stopped and prosecuted. There's no doubt whatsoever that my children and I have been constantly and systematically denied the proper legal representation, right to privacy, and protection by (and from!) law enforcement that are our basic civil rights.

Monday, May 3, 2010