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January 15th, 2005:

It’s worse than I thought

Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it beyond any doubt for the whole fricking world to see. James Howard Gibbons will not be getting chocolate from me anytime soon. Greg and Byron are on this, while Kevin and Anne are (for now, anyway) oddly silent. Perhaps Anne is still recovering from listening to the radio this morning.

Looks like probation for Coleman

I don’t think this is sufficient.

Tom Coleman was acquitted of testifying falsely in a 2003 hearing that as a sheriff’s deputy he never stole gas from county pumps, but he was found guilty of saying that he didn’t learn about the theft charge against him until August 1998.

Jurors deliberated his punishment for less than an hour before recommending a seven-year probated prison sentence. The judge can either follow their recommendation or come up with his own sentence. He is expected to rule Tuesday.

Aggravated perjury is a third-degree felony and carries a maximum 10-year sentence and $10,000 fine.

Coleman clamped his eyes shut and dropped his head when the judge said the sentence would be seven years. He started to fight back tears when the judge added that jurors said the prison sentence should be probated.

The Tulia defendants in the courtroom looked up when they heard seven years and shook their heads in disbelief when they heard the sentence would be probated.

John H. Read II, Coleman’s defense attorney, said his client should be given probation. He said sending a former police officer to prison could be dangerous.

“He’s got a problem if he’s sent to prison,” Read said, adding probation “is punishment enough.”

But prosecutors said he deserved a harsher punishment.

I think Tom Coleman definitely deserves some jail time. Maybe it’s inappropriate to shoehorn in punishments for all his other sins into the sentence for lying about when he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest, but the sentencing guidelines allow for prison time, and Lord knows, this guy has shown himself to be more than a one-time offender. I hope the judge considers this very carefully over the weekend.

You may wonder why I’m being so hardassed about this. I’ll let Lauri, who addresses the conviction of naked-pyramid fan Charles Graner along with that of Coleman, speak for me here:

I think that many people who normally defend the rights of the accused found themselves siding with the prosecutors. It’s because the defendants in both cases were accused of abusing their authority to deny the rights of possibly innocent people, I assume, and the evidence against both was pretty solid.

Yep. Like Lauri, I have very little sympathy for those who abuse power, in whatever fashion they do it.

More, as always, from Grits. The big news is that while Tom Coleman may get off lightly, the counties that help enable what others like him have done may not be so lucky.

Bev Carter censured

Bev Carter, publisher of the Fort Bend Star, was censured by the Fort Bend County GOP for endorsing Richard Morrison in the CD22 election last year.

Carter, the founder and publisher of the weekly Fort Bend Star, said she will not quit the post she has held since 2002.

“They can’t make me resign. The only people who can make me resign are my voters in my precinct,” Carter said Friday.

Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode said he thinks Carter, who regularly skewers the county’s leaders in her column, was wrong for endorsing Richard Morrison before the Nov. 2 election.

“It is inappropriate for an elected party official to endorse a candidate of another party. Absolutely unacceptable,” Thode said Friday.

I don’t disagree with what Thode says here. I’d be pretty cheesed at any Democratic precinct chair endorsing Republicans before an election, especially in as loud and proud a fashion as Carter did. So, as much as I appreciate and agree with what Carter wrote, I think the consequences are appropriate. Chris has a report from the meeting where the censure occurred.

Don Braley, who submitted the resolution against Carter, said Carter has been attacking elected leaders for years. But he said once Carter became a precinct chair she took on certain responsibilities.

“She came out in her paper and encouraged people to vote Democratic. That is definitely against the bylaws of which she is supposed to uphold as a precinct chair.”

Braley, who is also a precinct chair in an area near Carter’s precinct, said Carter is a Republican only because Republicans dominate county politics.

“If you are going to get involved in politics you are a Republican,” he said.


Carter, whose precinct covers part of the Quail Valley subdivision, said her duties as a newspaper publisher and columnist require her to be critical of elected leaders regardless of their political persuasion.

“If I am going to criticize officeholders, they are going to be Republican because we only have two (there are three) Democratic officeholders in the whole county,” she said.

Carter believes the local Republican Party is being dominated by people she calls the “religious right.”

“I decided to become a precinct chair because I saw the Republican Party in Fort Bend being captured by the radical right wing,” she said.

Bev, Bev, Bev. If this incident doesn’t convince you that the Republican Party has left you and it’s time for you to complete the process by switching to the Democratic Party, I don’t know what would. Look at the numbers – Fort Bend County is becoming less Republican, and has been doing so every election cycle since 1998. It’s not a swing county yet, but it’s getting there. Don Braley is wrong, and he’ll realize it soon. You want to make a difference, you want to reduce the dominance of the “radical right wing”, you need to set an example for others like you by showing them they need a new home. You weren’t going to reform the GOP from within before you wrote that October 27 column, and you sure as heck aren’t going to do it now. Get out and bring people with you – it’s the only way. I’m quite certain I speak for the Fort Bend Democratic Party when I say we’ll be here for you when you do.