Tag: county attorney
We’re not sure we totally buy his argument — we even think it smells a little like one of those Texas tall tales – but we’re 100 percent behind John Mark Cobern’s fight to bring his dog to work in the Titus County Courthouse.
After being notified by the county commissioners that he can no longer keep Belle in his office during the workday, Cobern, the Titus County Attorney, is asking for a ruling from the state attorney general.
Cobern maintains that he keeps Belle with him for protection, and that Belle makes the courthouse a safer place, according to the Austin American-Statesman
“The primary reason for bringing my dog to the county office was to make my office a safer work environment,” he told the attorney general, noting his job puts him in contact with “the mentally ill and potentially unstable individuals.”
As you already know — because you’ve seen the picture — Belle is not a German shepherd, Belgian malinois or Rottweiler.
She’s a dachshund. And she’s 16. And she suffers from a glandular ailment.
Even though it’s a little difficult picturing Belle accosting deranged gunmen, subduing prison escapees or breaking up fights, we don’t totally rule out there could be an action hero beneath her greying fur.
We don’t think Cobern should have to lay legal groundwork to be able to bring his dog to work, but if that’s the route he has chosen he should probably emphasize the calming effect Belle can have, and the ways she can assist him in doing his duty that don’t involve detecting bombs or striking fear into the hearts of thugs.
For Belle is clearly no Texas-sized attack dog.
The commissioners say they decided to ban Belle, and all non-service animals, from the courthouse in Mount Pleasant after a complaint was received about her — but who the complaint came from, and what exactly it was, have not been reported.
Titus County Commissioner Thomas Hockaday took the matter to his colleagues and it was approved, despite opposition from Titus County Judge Brian Lee, who questioned commissioners’ authority to regulate what goes on in the offices of elected officials, such as the county attorney.
Cobern has had Belle since he started law school in Houston. “She laid in my lap for hours at a time while I studied,” he said. “She was always with me, and she is always with me now. I can’t go to the bathroom by myself.”
At the courthouse, Belle spends her time in Cobern’s private office, separate from where his staff is and where the public enters. The glandular ailment Belle suffers from killed an earlier dog of Cobern’s.
Cobern has asked Attorney General Greg Abbott for an official opinion on whether the county commissioners have the authority to regulate whether he — also an elected official — can bring his dog to work.
Abbott is reportedly a dog lover himself, and considers his dog, Oreo, part of his family.
Assuming Belle has not caused severe carnage at the Titus County Courthouse, we hope the attorney general bases his ruling not on dusty law books, but on the heart.
(Photo: Cobern and Belle, courtesy of Cobern)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, attorney general, ban, belle, commissioners, county attorney, courthouse, courthouse dogs, dachshund, dog, dogs at work, elected, greg abbott, john mark cobern, office, officials, opinion, pets, protection, ruling, security, texas, titus county, work
When a Hollywood movie goes over budget, it’s no big deal.
When one being paid for by taxpayers — or even toll violators — does, it is.
So, as snarky as this investigative report by the 13 Undercover team at Houston’s KTRK is at times, it makes some valid points.
The Harris County attorney’s office hired director Fleming Fuller to produce a public service documentary about the dangers of dogfighting, offering $10,000 for the finished product.
The movie was intended to show the horrors of dogfighting, and get across Ryan’s message that he was going to be tough on people who take part in it.
Normally, we’d applaud something like that, but the movie went 10 times over budget, the county attorney seems to be taking credit for a previous county attorney’s dogfighting bust, and the movie’s director was a good friend of the Harris County attorney’s top assistant.
As the report points out, County Attorney Vince Ryan campaigned as an ethics watchdog: “So you’d figure his office would the first to make sure your money wasn’t wasted, reporter Wayne Dolcefino says. “Instead, they spent money like they were in Hollywood.”
On top of that, the report says there hasn’t been a big dogfighting bust since Ryan took office.
And, in yet another criticism offered by the news report, the documentary includes scenes of Ryan frolicking with his dog at the beach, which gives the film the appearance, at times, of a campaign ad.
The director charged $500 for his time on an overnight trip to Galveston — apparently just to obtain that beach footage — and expenses there included multiple hotel bills and a pricey dinner.
Fuller is a North Carolina-based director who has made a few horror movies, including Prey of the Chameleon and Stranded.
While the county’s contract specified $10,000 would be spent on the film, and that it would be completed in one month, the final pricetag came out to more than $100,000 and the film took nearly a year to make.
The movie was paid for from a special fund consisting of fines imposed on drivers who fail to pay tolls.
Ryan said the video has been used to train law enforcement officers and to show high school students and others that dogfighting is inhumane and illegal.
KTRK says the documentary ended up costing cost $13,000 a minute, and that only 171 people have watched it in on YouTube.
The original documentary, as it appears on YouTube, is in three parts, which, combined, add up to nearly 30 minutes, not seven minutes, as the news report says. (The version being distributed for education purposes has been shortened.)
Here’s part one:
To see all three parts, click here.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 30th, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 100000, animal cruelty, animals, budget, county attorney, cruelty, cruelty to animals, dangers, director, documentary, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, education, fleming fuller, fund, harris county, heart of texas, horrors, houston, investigative reporting, journalism, media, move, news, pets, pit bulls, pitbulls, public education, toll, video, vince ryan, watchdog