Memo from the police beat.

December 2nd, 2016

The APD officer who shot and killed a naked 17-year-old earlier this year, and who was fired by Chief Acevedo, has settled with the city.

Basically, what’s going to happen is that:

  • The arbitration process stops. So the officer won’t get his job back.
  • His firing gets reclassified as “a general discharge”. In theory, this means that he could get a job in law enforcement somewhere else. At least, according to the Statesman.
  • The fired officer gets $35,000. That seems kind of low to me, even if his lawyers aren’t getting a percentage.

Why settle, though? Well, the city may have felt like $35,000 was a cheap price to pay not to go through the hassle. And what if…

The public arbitration process would have held the fatal police shooting in the headlines for several days with hearings throughout next week. It also would have forced Mayor Steve Adler to testify in the hearing after Freeman’s attorney subpoenaed him.

So you get the mayor, you probably get Acevedo, maybe you get Chief Manley (no idea how involved he was in the decision making…

…and I hate to play the “I know more than you do” card, but I’ve heard some things through the grapevine that indicate the arbitration hearing could have gotten complicated and possibly embarrassing for some of the parties involved. The circumstances under which I heard this make me uncomfortable going into detail, but let’s just say: it seems like there was a chance (and not a “Chicago Cubs winning the World Series” chance; oh, wait, never mind) that the chief’s decision could have been overturned, and the fired officer placed back on the force.

It would have been interesting to see how that played out: does the APD need two people on pager duty? (Actually, by now, that guy would have 29 or 30 years in: he’s probably retired and collecting at least 76% of $98,000 a year, if not more and if I remember my APD pension math right.)

Obit watch: December 2, 2016.

December 2nd, 2016

Andrew Sachs, perhaps most famous as Manuel the waiter in “Fawlty Towers”.

Milt Moss passed away on September 26th, though his death was just announced by his family this week. He was perhaps most famous as the “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” guy from the Alka-Seltzer ads of the early 1970s.

Well. Well well well. Well.

December 1st, 2016

Y’all read that Christmas story I linked to a few days ago, right?

President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis to be secretary of defense, nominating a former senior military officer who led operations across the Middle East to run the Pentagon less than four years after he hung up his uniform, according to people familiar with the decision.

Obit watch: December 1, 2016.

December 1st, 2016

Grant Tinker, founder of MTM Enterprises and former head of NBC.

And as chairman and chief executive of NBC from 1981 to 1986, Mr. Tinker crammed prime time with many of television’s most imaginative, successful and long-running series, including “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Family Ties,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Miami Vice.”

Setting out as an independent in 1970, Mr. Tinker and Ms. Moore formed MTM to produce “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” for CBS. Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, the show had phenomenal success over the next seven years, which led to a host of spinoff hits and a growing stable of writers and producers eager to work in a creative atmosphere.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#AD of a series)

December 1st, 2016

Chief Acevedo’s last day on the job was Tuesday. Yesterday, he was officially confirmed as Houston’s police chief, and takes over today.

Before he left, Chief Acevedo did an “exit interview” with the Statesman. It is fairly short, but there’s one interesting quote that I’ll pull:

The (closure of the police) DNA lab really bothers me. I wish that we wouldn’t be here today where we’ve had to shut it down for so many months because our scientists decided to go onto an island to themselves. The lab is not reopened, and it probably won’t be open until early next year, so that’s the one thing I kind of leave undone, understanding that the work never ends.”

Why is this interesting? Well, there’s a story that came out in the past day or so. Seems like the DNA lab had a problem with a freezer that wasn’t working.

The lab subscribes to a service that is supposed to alert staff when a freezer gets too warm, but because that system failed, officials said the samples were at an improper temperature for eight days — instead of a few hours.

This is the kind of thing that could compromise the integrity of the stored evidence. So what did the lab do about it?

… they decided to keep mum. They alerted no one outside the lab — not investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys or judges.
“If, in the future, the laboratory determines that a sample has been affected by this incident, the customer will be notified,” interim DNA technical leader Diana Morales wrote in a March 16 letter to her bosses.

That’s…not good, in my opinion. I might even go so far as to say:

Noted.

November 30th, 2016

The conviction of John Dwayne Bunn for the killing of Rolando Neischer, an off-duty corrections officer, has been overturned.

In 1991, Mr. Bunn, then 14, was arrested on charges of killing Rolando Neischer in the Kingsborough housing project in the Crown Heights neighborhood. According to trial testimony, two men on bicycles had approached a parked car in which Mr. Neischer was sitting with another officer, Robert E. Crosson, and ordered them to get out. A gun battle followed and Mr. Neischer was fatally wounded. Mr. Crosson, who was shot and wounded in the fight, survived and eventually identified Mr. Bunn and a second man, Rosean S. Hargrave, as the gunmen. Both men were later convicted of Mr. Neischer’s murder.

Why was the conviction overturned?

…the judge wrote that his “malfeasance in fabricating false identification evidence gravely undermines the evidence that convicted the defendants in this case.”

And who is the judge referring to here? Our old friend Louis Scarcella.

Leadership Secrets of Non-Fictional Characters (part 12 in a series)

November 29th, 2016

This is a rare combination: both a leadership post and a swell Christmas story.

It is also very short, and I’m afraid to even quote from it as I might spoil it for you. I will say that it is a story from fairly recent history that involves two Marine Corps generals, and reflects honorably on both of them.

So, here: please go read.

Where do we get such men?

Firing watch and norts spews: November 29, 2016.

November 29th, 2016

This is an actual ESPN headline:

espn
Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. May the dead rest peacefully, and may the survivors recover and find peace as well.

Recent firings that I missed over the past few days:

Brian Polian out in Nevada, though this is being spun as “by mutual agreement”. The team was 23-27 over his four years, and 5-7 this year.

Ron Caragher out at San Jose State. 19-30 in four seasons, 4-8 this year.

Obit watch: November 28, 2016.

November 28th, 2016

NYT obit for Ron Glass.

Fritz Weaver, noted character actor. He won a Tony for “Child’s Play” in 1974, and was in “Fali-Safe” and the “Holocaust” mini-series, among other credits. (Edited to add 11/29: A/V Club.)

Pauline Oliveros, noted classical composer.

Obit watch: November 27, 2016.

November 27th, 2016

Ron Glass. A/V Club.

Loved him in “Barney Miller”, loved him with Sherman Hemsley in the “I of Newton” episode of the revived “Twilight Zone”, don’t have a damn thing to say about “Firefly” thank you very much.

Your NFL loser update: weeks 12 and 13, 2016

November 27th, 2016

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:

Cleveland

The Browns have a bye in week 13, which is why this is a combined update.

After that, they play at home against the Bengals, on the road in Buffalo, at home against San Diego, and on the road in Pittsburgh. Three out of four of these teams are basically mediocre, and the Bengals are bad, so it’s still possible for the Browns to pull out a couple of wins. I wouldn’t bet that way, but it is possible…

Inevitability.

November 26th, 2016

Charlie Strong officially out as University of Texas head football coach.

16-21 in three seasons: 6-7 in 2014, 5-7 in 2015, and 5-7 again this year.

Strong ran his program by his personal moral compass whereby players could lose their scholarship by violating one of his five core values, which included being honest and not using drugs. He kicked 10 players off the team that first year and doubled the amount of drug testing that went on under Brown.
Strong won universal praise from UT administrators and parents. That’s a primary reason how he captured consecutive top-10 recruiting classes the last two years. Dozens of recruits’ parents told the American-Statesman they wanted their sons to play for a man of Strong’s character.

That’s pretty much the saddest thing about this: it seems like he is a great guy, and everybody liked him. But his teams just were not performing on the field, and (this is also sad to say) there’s just too much invested in UT football to have three consecutive losing seasons.

The mildly amusing aspect of this is that UT has supposedly already hired Tom Herman, current University of Houston head coach and former Ohio State offensive coordinator. (Hello, my northern relatives who are currently watching the Ohio State game!) This is mildly amusing because earlier in the week ESPN was reporting that UT boosters were pushing hard for Herman. By the middle of the week, the reports were that LSU was going to hire Herman. By yesterday, the reports were that LSU wasn’t going to wait around on Herman and had made their interim coach (Ed Orgeron) the non-interim coach instead.

So almost everybody got more or less what they wanted: UT boosters got Herman, LSU got somebody who is at least familiar with the program, Herman gets a larger paycheck, more prestige, and less family disruption. And Charlie Strong gets a contract buyout (“Strong has two years remaining on a guaranteed contract worth $10.7 million.”)