Friday, October 24, 2014

Payday lender finds himself in court | Last Word



The Houston Chronicle reported this week that Gary Elkins has been charged with violating the city’s ordinance covering payday lenders.

Houston officials aren’t taking it personally.

They’re aware that Elkins has already been charged with the same offense in Dallas and San Antonio.

It’s not what you call a major crime.

Punishment doesn’t include prison or even jail. It maxes out at $500 a day per violation.

Two things make the story newsworthy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wolff and Soules square off | Oct. 17, 2014



When Carlton Soules quit his seat on the San Antonio City Council to run against County Judge Nelson Wolff, the election was expected to be a referendum on VIA's controversial street car project, which Judge Wolff strongly supported. Since then, in the wake of a massive petition drive, Judge Wolff agreed to pull the plug. Soules has always said there are other issues. We meet with both candidates.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Time to shut down Texas Lotto | Last Word



Last week a legislative committee took up the question of whether Texas should abolish the state lottery.

If you haven’t been paying attention, the suggestion sounds outrageous.

Doesn’t the Lottery bring in billions of dollars and isn’t it a major source of funding for our public schools?

The answer is yes and no.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bexar district attorney rematch | Oct. 10, 2014



Four years ago, Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed defeated Democrat Nico LaHood in a very contentious race. While Reed pointed out LaHood’s drug arrest from 20 years ago, LaHood argued that Reed’s job performance had been sub-standard. Now it's a rematch and both candidates, in what could be their only joint appearance in the campaign, join Rick Casey to discuss the issues.

Friday, October 10, 2014

We don't really "elect" judges | Last Word



Some years ago I endorsed a young lawyer running for a Bexar County bench based on just one factor.

Getting her a regular paycheck was likely the only way taxpayers would recover the money we had lent her for law school.

The voters didn’t buy my argument.

Now comes, via Express-News Columnist Gilbert Garcia, news of another judicial candidate who had defaulted on his student loans.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Separating Ebola facts from myths | Oct. 3, 2014



This week, the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the United States, and it's close to home ... specifically in Dallas. While many citizens worry about the virus spreading, we talk with two experts to separate fact from fiction so you can better understand the issues involved.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Police medical benefits under fire | Last Word



I’d like to begin this piece by once again thanking Ronnie Parker, an excellent copy editor at the Houston Chronicle.

Some years ago I wrote a column about how the Houston police union was in serious, if tough, negotiations with the city while the firefighters’ union was posturing and making outrageous demands.

My lead began, “There’s an old Texas saying that pigs get fat and hogs get slaughtered.”

Ronnie called me over to his desk and said, “Rick, you’re writing about the police union. Do you really want to use a metaphor about pigs?”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Learn about "Telling: San Antonio" | Sept. 26, 2014



Over the past few decades, thousands of veterans have returned from wars to live in San Antonio. They all have stories, but few of us get to hear them. Playwright Jonathan Wei has come up with an innovative way to help us. He turns veterans into actors, and their stories into theater. We talk to Wei and one of his veterans/actors to learn about "Telling: San Antonio" and its impact.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will Gov. Perry really fight injustice? | Last Word



Last week Gov. Rick Perry flew to Lubbock to dedicate a memorial statue of Timothy Cole, a Texas Tech student who was wrongly convicted of raping a fellow student after a badly botched police investigation.

Cole died in prison in the 14th year of a 25-year sentence.

The highlight of last week’s ceremony was when Perry said, “This statue will serve as a reminder that justice must be tempered with wisdom and that we all must stand vigilant against injustice, wherever it may be found.”

Gov. Perry should keep that imperative in mind as he reconsiders the case of Cameron Todd Willingham.

Willingham was the Corsicana man who was executed for setting an arson fire that killed his three children as they slept.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oil boom wasting lots of gas | Sept. 12, 2014



While the Texas oil boom, driven by fracking, has raised concerns about groundwater and earthquakes, recent reports has generated a different buzz.

Two San Antonio Express-News reporters spent a year looking at something much more visible: thousands of well-site flares that light up South Texas skies. They found a massive waste of natural gas, pollution and very light regulation. We talk to the jo