March 23, 2007
TYC: Another "correction" from Perry's office

Patricia Kilday Hart, on March 5:

When Sen. Juan Hinojosa held hearings last summer about a riot at a TYC facility in the Rio Grande Valley, he learned enough about the agency's operations to recognize "a recipe for disaster."

Guards were being hired off the street with little education or training. Kids from ages 10 to 21 were mixed on the same dorm. At night, the inmate/guard ratio was as high to 25 to 1, with open bay dormitories offering little security.

Maybe that's why, when he received a Texas Ranger report outlining allegations of sexual abuse at the TYC's Pyote facility, he acted immediately (instead of ignoring the report, like TYC management, or the midlevel staffer in Gov. Rick Perry's office, who sat on it for a year).

Kilday Hart again, on March 6:

In "Cuckoo's Nest Revisited," which I posted yesterday, I wrote that Rick Perry's office had a copy of the Texas Rangers report on the TYC abuse allegations for over a year and did nothing. My source was Senator Juan Hinojosa, who held hearings about the TYC scandal. Today, following a conversation with a Perry staffer who said that Perry does not have either the Rangers report or the TYC internal report, I spoke with Hinojosa, who said while Perry's office knew of the investigation, he cannot verify that the governor's office ever received an actual copy of either report.

Today, we get verification.

An aide to the governor received detailed investigative reports alleging a sex scandal at a West Texas youth lockup days before the November election, documents show, but Gov. Rick Perry has said he learned only last month, from news reports, about the abuse at the Texas Youth Commission facility.

Interviews and documents confirm that one of Perry's aides, Alfonso Royal, was forwarded graphic investigative reports about sexual abuse at the West Texas State School from Texas Ranger Sgt. Brian Burzynski on Oct. 30 or 31, 2006. The documents also indicate that Royal knew in October, just days before Perry was re-elected, about a West Texas district attorney's lack of action in the case.

Perry's press secretaries had previously denied that Royal -- a budget and policy analyst who oversees the Youth Commission among other agencies -- had a copy of the reports. "To this day, we have not seen a copy of that report," Perry spokesman Robert Black said Tuesday. "If someone can prove we did, bring them forward."

After being provided with a copy of what Royal had been sent by a legislative staffer, Black and Ted Royer, Perry's deputy press secretary, changed their story.

"That's what he saw," Black said.


Royal did not keep a copy of the report, Royer said. And the governor's office routinely deletes its e-mail after seven days, Black and Royer say.

That's irrelevant. What's your retention policy on backup tapes? If they're kept long enough, any related emails can still be found.

Criminy, it's been 20 years since the PROFS emails Ollie North "deleted" came back from the tapes to nail his sorry ass. Is there really a government official who still believes that when you delete an email, it's gone forever? Nobody could be that ignorant, right?

At issue is: Did the governor's office act quickly enough and forcefully enough on information it had received?

Black said Royal did not sit on the information. He said Royal read the reports and immediately started trying to push Ward County District Attorney Randall Reynolds to prosecute the case. Reynolds had declined to file charges for more than a year.

Those are the reports you swore less than three weeks ago never reached anyone in the Governor's office, right?

Asked by Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith this month about when he found out about the case, Perry said: "We knew about this probably about the same time you did, when we read it" in The Dallas Morning News.

Black explained: "The governor was speaking personally. . . . That's when he found out about it."

Kilday Hart, today:

However, I continue to be puzzled by Perry's press office insisting that the guv does not have the actual report. If Perry's office no longer has the report, it's because someone on the staff deleted it from computer files. And if the governor has not yet read the report, it does not exactly reflect well on his leadership.

No surprise there.

On a related matter, why is Perry crony Jay Kimbrough leading the TYC investigation when it was supposed to be the Rangers' task? Even worse, Kimbrough has a conflict of interest. If the Governor is trying to look like someone who wants to get at the truth here, he's doing a really poor job of it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 23, 2007 to Scandalized!