Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Medical Examiner Requests HUGE Raise!

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Medical examiner asks
commissioners for a 46 percent pay hike
By Jessica Savage
Corpus Christi Caller Times
Posted November 29, 2010 at 7:50 p.m., updated November 29, 2010 at 7:50 p.m.

Fernandez is asking commissioners for a $75,000 raise.CORPUS CHRISTI — The
county’s highest paid employee is asking for a 46 percent raise so he can earn a
salary competitive with others in his field.
Nueces County Chief Medical Examiner Ray Fernandez makes $163,634 a year
performing autopsies. He also receives a $1,400 car allowance and 40 percent in commission from autopsies requested by other counties.
Fernandez is asking for a $75,000 raise this year, or a 46 percent raise, and a
$20,000 pay boost over the next three years to bring his pay on par with other
“It’s not going to be an overnight process,” he said. “It will probably take
Even if he receives the proposed raise, Fernandez won’t be making what other
counties pay their chief medical examiners. Lubbock County, which is smaller
than Nueces County, pays $450,000 a year. The average pay for Harris, Travis and
Bexar counties, which are larger than Nueces County, is $257,711.
With the raise this year, Fernandez would make $238,634 and receive a $5,000 car
Nationwide the shortage of pathologists has caught the attention of those who
rely on their skills to solve crimes. The demand puts Fernandez in a good
position for a raise, which County Judge Loyd Neal said he supports.
“He’s been a very good medical examiner and has a great reputation, so I have no
problem bringing this to court,” Neal said. “We don’t want to lose him. He is
well respected in the courts and it would affect the outcome of so many cases
where he is rendering the opinion.”
Fernandez said he has completed about 16 years of school and training after high
“It’s very comparable to the time a heart surgeon might put in,” he said.
Earlier this year, commissioners approved a $115.2 million budget, which called
for $1.4 million in cuts to keep the tax rate at 35.5 cents per $100 valuation,
the same as last year. At the time, Neal instructed commissioners to watch their
spending as next year could require additional cuts.
Neal said money to pay for Fernandez’s salary increase could come from $144,000
that was set aside to pay for county jail doctor William Flores. Flores canceled
that contract early in the fiscal year, so the item was still included in this
year’s budget, Neal said.
Fernandez has worked for the county since 2003. He and a part-time physician,
who works one week a month, perform an average of 500 autopsies a year. About
100 of those are requested by nearby counties that don’t employee a medical
examiner. Fernandez charges those counties from $1,500 to $3,000 per autopsy,
depending upon the type of autopsy or lab tests.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Texas Supreme Court Overturns Open Beaches Act!

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Perry's New Book: F 'ed Up!

From the Austin American Statesman:

Perry's book, the power of an apostrophe, and a slip with the f-word (freedom)

Here at the Newspaper-by-the-Lake, routine is important. Each day, of course, begins with the Socialist Workers of America meeting during which we swear our allegiance to Marx (for me and Kelso, it's Groucho, not Karl).
Then we put out a newspaper. Sometimes during that process, some of us wander around and tell little newspapery jokes. Don't worry, it is always with the utmost of respect for the people we cover and the readers we serve.
It was during one of these little chats the other day that two of my favorite colleagues noted that with the mere insertion of a punctuation mark, Gov. Rick Perry's new book "Fed Up!" could have a funnier — yet still appropriate — title.
Let's see if I can navigate you to that title without running afoul of our standards about foul language.
The punctuation mark in question is an apostrophe. Insert it between the first two letters of "Fed" and we kind of wind up being something else'd up. You with me here? And the new title would remain appropriate for a book that begins with these words: "Something is terribly wrong."
Please be assured that I scolded the people who pointed this out to me and told them their behavior was immature.
Anyway, our recently re-coronated governor for life is on the road hawking "Fed Up!" (no apostrophe).
"Back now with one of the Republicans who could be a prime contender in the race for the White House in 2012," Meredith Vieira said Thursday in introducing Perry on "Today." (I think Hugh Downs was on vacation.)
"It's about freedom. It's about giving Americans their freedom back," Perry said of his book, noting that freedom has been compromised by the feds and the U.S. Supreme Court "in direct conflict with the Constitution, from my perspective."
He pitched his book as "a good primer" about the Constitution and the federal government's relationship with the states.
Vieira, noting that George W. Bush and Barack Obama wrote books as part of their presidential bids, asked Perry if he is running for president. He said no. Perry cited the book — with its attacks on Washington — as the best evidence of a guy who doesn't want to move there.
"Anyone running for the presidency is not going to go take on these issues with the power that I do," he said.
Vieira asked Perry if he might change his mind about running for president if Republicans said, "We need you in 2012."
"I don't see that scenario at all," he said, dismissing the possibility that his party might find itself in dire need of a self-styled constitutional expert with an animal science degree from Texas A&M.
Despite the ongoing denials of presidential intent, Perry clearly and cleverly is following a game plan successfully employed by a previous Texas governor who became president. There's the book. There's the national spotlight. There's the botched phrases, including this one on "Today."
"George W. Bush did an incredible job in the presidency, defending us from freedom," Perry said.
Defending us from freedom?
A couple of minutes later it was time for "Today" to move on. "Up next," said Vieira, "Laurie David on her new campaign to resurrect the family dinner."
I missed that because I had to leave the house and hurry in for the Socialist Workers meeting. But I did see a previous segment that had me waxing Perrylike about government and what it should do and what it shouldn't do. The story involved San Francisco's proposed ban on toys in kids' meals that don't meet the city's nutritional standards.
Yes, I'm aware that the toys sometimes have higher nutritional value than the food in kids meals. But how far down the in-loco-parentis road do we want government to go?
Your governor, in his book, on some of the things some of us are fed up about:
"We are tired of being told how much salt we can put on our food, what windows we can buy for our house, what kind of cars we can drive, what kind of prayers we are allowed to say and where we can say them, what political speech we are allowed to use to elect candidates, what kind of energy we can use, what kind of food we can grow, what doctor we can see, and countless other restrictions on our right to live as we see fit."
Some of that indeed may be fed up (with the apostrophe).

Editor's note, (That's me!)
I haven't seen Perry's book yet, I made a mock up on Photoshop of what I thought would make an appropriate cover.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

Mark Skurka; One Of The Last Dems Standing!

Mark Skurka was a notable exception in the recent election. All across the area Democrats were losing their races in a Republican red tide!
In the biggest shocker Solomon Ortiz, long time incumbent in the 27th Congressional district, was defeated by Republican rookie Blake Farenthold. His son, Solomon Ortiz Jr, lost his seat in the state legislature.
But Skurka stood against the tide as he defeated Republican Anna Jimenez who had been appointed by Governor Rick Perry to fill the un-expired term of former District Attorney Carlos Valdez.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Perry Wins! Bummer!

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Rick Perry easily took yesterday's election and won his third elected term which makes him the longest serving Governor in Texas history. Political junkies may recall he ascended to the Governor's office in 2000 when G.W. bush won the election to the Presidency. When Bush ran for governor in 1998 he assured all that he was not going to run for the Presidency but absolutely no one believed that!
Now Perry is poised for another term and he is echoing G.W.'s old line but probably few believe him either.