Friday, March 2, 2012

Wayne Dolcefino Taking on the Good Ole Boys

Since last fall the public has been treated to a series of undercover reports from Channel 13's Wayne Dolcefino. In all fairness I have to say he's a good reporter despite his criminal record, exaggerated showmanship, and tendency to miss certain details, and possible copy right violations.

First there were many stories on various Harris County constables. Early in 2011 the county budget office reported that all departments (except for the sheriff's department and probably the budget office itself) had to trim their budgets. All 8 constable offices saw money taken from them and given to the sheriff's department.

First Wayne exposed Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino. Apparently deputies had contacted Wayne about the practice of working on his campaign and for his charity on county time which is a big no no. When I first saw this I was surprised. Trevino had been a media favorite for a long time. He knows how to appear favorably to the media and is cozy with groups like LULAC who always have reporters' ears. It seemed like a dog that turns and bites its handler. Wayne showed emails where commanders solicited donations and handed out event tickets. Trevino took another hit when (according to insiders) he assigned a sergeant to investigate where the leaks were coming from. Her internet persona become prime time fodder. Her facebook posts were compared to her time sheets creating the image she was falsifying her time sheets. Now, I don't know if she was or wasn't however with facebook one can post a picture or a status update and create illusion. For example, a picture of her with a glass of wine was shown. The time and date of the picture coincided with her work week. With facebook I can post a picture and the date/time stamp is when the picture was posted, not taken. She could've taken that picture anytime and just posted it while she was at work. The same applies to her statuses. I'm sure the investigators will look at her activity logs aside from her time sheet to verify or refute the allegations. Next the practice of issuing "advisor badges" was exposed. Sadly some constables in their politicking issue "non police" badges to supporters, friends, etc. I personally disagree with the practice because it is political favoritism. This came to light when Wayne revealed that a "liaison" for Pct.6 was arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Trevino did his best to distance himself from Richard Romero via his attorney Chip Lewis. However he was well aware of him and his generous contributions to his suspicious charity. This investigation is still pending.

Next, Wayne did a series of reports on Pct.7 Constable May Walker. She tried to deflect the incoming publicity storm with a press conference where she attempted to answer issues brought up by Wayne (her full conference is available on Channel 13's interactive site) however Walker not being good on her feet did herself more harm than good. Wayne showed Walker's employees campaigned for her on county time with help from one of her Lieutenants, Sylvia Trevino (who happens to be the wife of Constable Victor Trevino). We all found it amazing how on Walker's raffle that Constable Trevino won both top prizes. Makes you go hmmmm. We also all found it amazing how Walker was no-billed by the grand jury despite the fact her campaign reports clearly said "raffles" which are not allowed for political campaigns. Keep in mind two Dallas county constables were indicted for the same thing. I guess Dallas county grand jurors and/or prosecutors actually read the law unlike in Harris County. Wayne showed Walker also engaged in the practice of issuing "advisor" badges to political supporters. Her predecessor, Perry Wooten did the same thing. He wound up a convicted felon and when Walker took office she sent out a memo asking anyone who came across a Pct. 7 issued "advisor or liaison" to confiscate it. I didn't know she resumed the practice. Wayne also revealed that Walker ordered her employees only to use a gas station owned by a man who had donated to her campaign. The lack of grand jury action along with Walker's lawsuit against a former deputy she accuses of giving information to Wayne only serves to remind deputy constables, who have no civil service protection, to keep their mouths shut or lose their jobs.

Next Wayne reported on Pct.1 Constable Jack Abercia. Earlier that year the Texas Watchdogs swooned over this. I wonder their reaction when this story broke. Wayne had a field day with Abercia. He showed a story of a deputy hired by Abercia despite a poor oral board review. After that allegations of bribery surfaced and Abercia resigned. Shortly after that, he, along with two of his command staff were arrested by the FBI. They stand accused to accepting bribes to hire the aforementioned deputy and for running criminal histories for an area business. He also showed candid video of one of his Lieutenants working an extra job on county time and a private conversation between a former chief deputy (one of the arrested) and another employee about the issues plaguing the department.

After these reports aired there was speculation that the "good ole boy" system that runs Harris County was in trouble. However when Walker got no billed and this story aired people lost faith. After all, Walker was no billed, DA Pat Lykos was no billed, and the assistant county attorney sent a letter to a federal judge asking for probation for a former county commissioner, and the county judge defending his "chief legal counsel" (what does the county attorney do then?) for injuring a woman with his car and has a history of fighting police officers what low level county employee would want to do the right thing and upset the good ole status quo?