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October 5th, 2005:

New evidence, new indictment?

The word from the Travis County DA Ronnie Earle’s office regarding the latest indictment against Tom DeLay was that it was the result of new evidence.

Earle said the grand jury that indicted DeLay last week on the last day of its term “declined to indict” on charges other than conspiracy to violate the election code.

Earle said in a statement that “additional information” that he would not detail came to him during the weekend, leading him to present the money laundering charges to a new grand jury Monday.

DeLay’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, of Houston, dismissed Earle’s statement as spin.

“This is crazy,” DeGuerin said. “I doubt he got any evidence of any kind other than we were going to bring this motion to dismiss.”

The new indictment was returned Monday shortly after DeGuerin filed a motion to quash and dismiss the original indictment based on the claim that the state’s conspiracy statute did not apply to the election code until a year after the alleged events of 2002.

Earle did not address the issues in DeGuerin’s motion other than to say they will be “resolved by a judge.”

[…]

DeGuerin said Earle was caught flat-footed with the original indictment because it alleged a crime that would not be illegal at the time it occurred.

“We researched very carefully to make sure that the law Ronnie Earle charged was violated had not come into effect until Sept. 1, 2003. We confirmed it top, side and bottom,” DeGuerin said.

The September 2003 law applying the conspiracy statue to election laws was part of a House bill designed to prevent fraud in absentee balloting by making it a crime to mark a person’s ballot without the person’s consent.

The author of the bill, former state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas, did not return telephone calls Tuesday by the Houston Chronicle to discuss why the language was needed.

Several Republican lawmakers co-authored the bill.

Earle’s full statement about the new indictment can be found here (thanks, Juanita). That’ll be an interesting issue for the judge to rule on in the pretrial hearings. We have the opinion of other legal experts who say that this isn’t a problem for Earle, but as always, it’s what the person in the black robes says that matters. So we’ll see.

This Statesman story provides more details and a timeline (via BOR).

More interesting to me in this story is the following:

Also Tuesday, DeGuerin criticized Earle at a Houston news conference, accusing him of offering “a sweet deal” to DeLay’s co-defendants, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to get them to testify against his client.

Ellis’ lawyer, J.D. Pauerstein, of San Antonio, said prosecutors made offers but they were inadequate.

“I didn’t perceive anything they offered as acceptable, let alone sweet. They were talking in terms of wanting to put these poor guys in jail,” Pauerstein said.

So, um, does that mean that there is an acceptable offer which would make thse guys be willing to roll over and spill the beans about Tommy? Like, say, probation and a fine? I’m just wondering.

And Dick, please, spare me the outrage here. In a similar situation, you’d advise your client to grab a deal like that as if it were a double mochachino being dangled in front of a caffeine-starved IT worker.

Speaking of DeLay’s defense, Jeralyn notices a shift in strategy. DeLay’s new tactic? “I misspoke.” Please do keep talking, Tom. The rest of us are taking notes.

Finally, for your amusement, Ted presents “Laverne & Shirley Republican Bingo”.

Yes, that would explain it

Well, at least there was a pretty good explanation for why Padres ace Jake Peavy stunk up the joint yesterday.

Jumping up and down in a close knot of teammates during San Diego’s celebration of the NL West championship, Jake Peavy felt a sharp twinge in his rib cage.

The Padres’ ace tried to pitch in Game 1 of the NL division series anyway, an 8-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, and now he will miss the rest of the postseason with a broken rib.

An MRI exam at Barnes-Jewish Hospital revealed a fractured eighth rib, and doctors were still trying to determine if the ninth rib was fractured, too.

“The next day I just thought I had some bruised ribs, caught an elbow or something,” Peavy said. “I never would have imagined it would have been this.”

I can believe that. If only explaining how it is that the wrong Sox put up a football score in their Game One could be that simple. Not that I’m complaining, mind you – between that and the result in Orange County, yesterday was a good day.

Layoffs in New Orleans

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has announced that he will lay off 3000 municipal employees due to lack of any revenue stream for the city.

Nagin announced with “great sadness” that he had been unable to find the money to keep the workers on the payroll.

He said only non-essential workers will be laid off and that no firefighters or police will be among those let go.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this. I wish we had the money, the resources to keep these people,” Nagin said. “The problem we have is we have no revenue streams.”

Nagin described the layoffs as “pretty permanent” and said that the city will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to notify municipal employees who fled the city in the aftermath of Katrina, which struck about a month ago.

The mayor said the move will save about $5 million to $8 million of the city’s monthly payroll of $20 million. The layoffs will take place over the next two weeks.

“We talked to local banks and other financial institutions and we are just not able to put together the financing necessary to continue to maintain City Hall’s staffing at its current levels,” the mayor said.

I’m sorry, but this just feels wrong to me. Congress has already allocated over $50 billion for rebuilding New Orleans. Less than 0.2% of that would be more than enough to meet the city’s full payroll for the next year. I can’t think of any good reason why that small piece of this money isn’t being used for that purpose. Let’s give New Orleans a little time to figure out what it’s going to be like post-rebuilding before forcing it to permanently cut half its municipal workforce.

Nonscientific municipal poll numbers

With the lack of a high profile race at the top of the ticket this year, we’re unlikely to see any real polling done for the municipal elections – checking my archives from 2003, the first one we got then was in mid-September, so there’s obviously no urgency here. There is an unscientific reader poll being done by Houston Business Connections which is worth a look. It may be meaningless but I’m still disappointed to see Prop 2 leading by a healthy margin. Beyond that, no real surprises to me. I do think At Large #2 will ultimately require a runoff, so I’ll be a little surprised if Jay Aiyer wins a majority on Election Day to avoid it as this suggests he would. Click around and see for yourself, but don’t put too much stock in any of it. Via Carl Whitmarsh’s mailing list.

I should also note that the deadline to register for this election is this coming Tuesday, October 11, and that early voting will begin on October 24. You can check the voter registration database at HCVoter.net to verify that you’re registered or to get a form to fill out if you need to. Lyn has all the details on early voting times and locations. This election may not be generating a whole lot of media attention, but it’s as important as all the others, so be prepared and get ready to vote.

Harrell’s rescheduled announcement

Mary Beth Harrell‘s official announcement of her candidacy in CD31, originally scheduled for September 27 but postponed for obvious reasons has been reset:

Campaign Kick-Off Rallies – Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 11:30 am till 1:30 pm

Meet the Candidate! Food and Refreshments will be served.

Louisiana Longhorn Cafe, 4 till 6 pm

200 W. Main St. in Round Rock
Meet the Candidate! More Food and Refreshments will be served.

We’ll be waitin’ on y’all, so don’t miss it!

If you’re in the area, check it out. I’ve had the chance to talk to Ms. Harrell and I think she’s going to run a fine race. Thanks to Eye on Williamson for the information.