Monday, July 06, 2015

Skeptic Texan Educates on CHL & Campus Carry

I wrote several pieces on the Texas Legislature's passing of Campus Carry, which will allow concealed handgun license holders to bring their guns on campus.  The Skeptic Texan sent me their thoughts on aspects of my pieces.  Skeptic educated me on the CHL world, which is vastly occupied by responsible citizens and responsible gun owners.  I learned CHL statistics predict a miniscule number of college students carrying on campus.  I am grateful for the opportunity to listen and learn about a subsection of America's gun owners, who carry for their own protection. 

State of the Division:  “The structure of this bill tracks with how public and private property are generally treated elsewhere in the state under the concealed carry law.” 

Skeptic Texan:  Not really, if this were the case then all that would have been necessary is to strike the specific restrictions from the current concealed carry law. This law is instead intended to lay out very specific and special rules for institutes of higher education. In doing so, this law will go a long way to needlessly muddy the water so to speak for Concealed Handgun License holders (CHLs).

“A Texas Women's University Sociology professor offered one. Bullying students would use their concealed weapons to intimidate professors into giving them higher grades.”

ST:  No student that would make such threats is waiting for a change in the CHL law to do so. This hypothetical scenario that she dreamed up is a gun control advocacy group’s wet dream; unfortunately for her it is also completely illogical. It is one of many that thrive on the incorrect assumption that every student will suddenly have a gun when nothing could be farther from the truth.

In reality this law will apply to very few students as it is but the ones that this professor is describing are certainly not your Texas CHL holder. Even if they were so inclined to seek a license, the vast majority of these “bullying students” would not qualify anyway let alone make it past the scrutiny of a CHL instructor. I would think that a Professor of Sociology would be better equipped than most to identify the type of personality likely to perpetrate that type of behavior and realize that they are about as far from the CHL demographic as you can get. Perhaps her own personal political views and agenda have clouded her critical thinking skills.

I find it interesting that ALL arguments I have found against campus carry are regarding students with CHLs when statistically and logically this will pertain to faculty and staff far more often than students.

James Adams and CHL training – Oh, where to even begin…

ST:  James Adams’ opinion on concealed carry is not in line with the majority of police officers and police organizations across the state. The arguments that he makes regarding CHLs on campus show that he is either ignorant of proper tactics and police work in general or that he too is far more concerned about airing personal political views than doing his job which affects the safety of everyone on campus.

Further, I have a hard time respecting the opinion of a “Law Officer” that cannot seem to stay on the right side of the law himself. Keep in mind that this is the same James Adams that was arrested for intoxicated boating in 2013. In my opinion James Adams has no business being the Police Chief for Angelo State University or even a law enforcement officer in any capacity for that matter.

In his comments Adams claims that he has a problem with the training of CHLs which means his problem is not with campus carry but rather with CHLs in general. Most professional law enforcement officers across the state overwhelmingly support and encourage CHLs because they know that in a world where they have to approach everyone as a potential threat, the ones that hand them a CHL are the least likely to be any trouble.

He also says that “He and his department” do not support the legislation. I bet if you polled his officers (and got honest answers) you would get a very different story.

He also claims that officers receive an extraordinary amount of training but still might not react properly to a shooting situation. He is correct in that there have been many LEOs that have found themselves in a shooting situation and did not react according to their training and procedures. This is not necessarily an indication of wrongdoing or a lack of training on their part; it simply serves to highlight the fact that there really is no way to completely prepare someone for responding to a situation like this.

I’m not sure what he considers “extraordinary” but I can tell you that far too many LEOs are not even what I would call proficient with the use of their sidearm. There are also officers that take a personal interest in shooting and train constantly on their own. They have what I would call an extraordinary amount of training and those officers will tell you that there is no such thing as “enough” training.

It seems Mr. Adams along with a disturbing number of other people obviously do not understand what exactly CHL training is supposed to cover. It is not in any way tactical training to prepare people to respond to attacks as CHLs do not “respond” to anything. The classroom portion is designed to educate people on the legal aspects of using lethal force to protect themselves. The shooting portion is only to demonstrate basic firearm proficiency.

The comments about CHL’s presence at a shooting scene complicating the situation are interesting as this is absolutely part of what is covered in CHL training and should be the least of Mr. Adams’ worries. Every prospective CHL holder is taught that they have no special privilege when responding officers arrive at the scene of a shooting and they should expect to be arrested at a minimum. It is very, very clear to all CHL holders that if they do not comply with all LEO commands they will likely be shot. CHLs are all taught that they and they alone are responsible for their actions.

Drew Darby: A moron for sure but not a criminal (in this case anyway). 

ST:  Any politician that has been in office as long as Darby probably needs to be in prison for one reason or another and I personally have no love for the man. A part of me wishes that they would have thrown the book at him for making the rest of the CHL population look bad but at the end of the day, the way his case was handled is exactly how it should have been regardless of whether or not it happened for the right reasons. The “Darby Treatment” you referred to is also called due process.

Darby didn’t actually commit a crime and had no intention of doing so. Contrary to popular belief there is nothing sacred about the airport, only the secured area of the airport which the TSA miraculously (in light of recent TSA undercover tests) stopped him from carrying his gun into. There is some legal grey area here but it is typically dealt with by determining intent. I’m sure his intent was fairly easy to justify, if he was a suspected terrorist or gang member with a long list of threats on his Facebook page it likely would have ended a little differently (but then he wouldn’t have had a CHL then either). All Darby really did was make a fool of himself and draw un-needed attention to the issue of carrying firearms.

Thanks largely to the efforts of the left when concealed carry was first enacted, there is an enormous amount of statistics kept and reported on for CHLs. Unfortunately for them, every year the statistics show that CHL holders are just about the poster children for good behavior compared to the population as a whole as well as just about any other demographic you could gather the data on.

By the way I think someone did once upon a time make a mini “Luger” in .380 but I sincerely doubt that is what was in his bag. More than likely a Ruger LCP in .380 ACP.

“Texas universities have the challenge of deciding how to carve up their campuses into carry and no carry zones. Parking lots are already carry zones. We'll see how much further administrators go.”

ST:  Put your carving knife away, the assumption that campuses will be “carved up” into “carry and no carry zones” is not accurate at all. Everyone somehow seems to forget that the entire campus (not just the parking lot) is currently free game for concealed carry, it is only the inside of the buildings that is specifically restricted under current law. As for the “How much farther will administrators go?” question – well if they don’t want to be the campus that draws the bank breaking lawsuit, they should do what the law says and allow concealed carry – period.

This option for universities to designate “reasonable gun-free zones” will turn into much more trouble that it was worth. The intent (of the left) was to give university officials in opposition a foothold to fight campus carry. In reality it gave universities the opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot in more ways than one (pun intended).

By adding the vague allowance for “reasonable” gun-free zones each campus has been given the opportunity to choose their own destiny in a way, but not the way that I’m sure some administrators think. If they try to restrict carry in too many places or in very important and necessary places the issue will have to be settled in court. After all, there are dozens if not hundreds of people all working diligently right now at crafting their own definition of “reasonable,” how could this end up anywhere but the courts for a decision and all because the legislature was either incompetent or unwilling to do their job correctly in the first place by laying it all out up front. I’m sure those same legislators will just complain later that the judges are legislating from the bench.

Another major problem (as if it really needs any more explanation) is the fun little fact that gun free zones don’t work. A “gun free zone” is only a place that law abiding folks get to be voluntarily disarmed or face prosecution (or is it persecution?) while those intent on criminal malice are free to walk right in and slaughter the masses. Sorry, there is no nice way to put this one; I simply do not understand this mentality.

There is of course the incredibly expensive option which is to install metal detectors, armed guards and lock boxes at every entrance of the building or building area in question. This is really the only way to truly have a “gun free zone” but this is a very expensive, invasive and unnecessary option. Aside from court houses (I won’t even cover the worthless TSA) the rest of the state and most of the country for that matter seem to get along just fine with CHLs standing right behind you in the checkout line or right across the table from you at a restaurant. If universities chose to go this route, to burden the students and tax payers with this ridiculousness they will do so on their own and can blame no one but themselves. Allowing campus carry does not have to cost anyone a single penny, it would however cost the critics some rational thought. That is apparently a price too steep for most.

“Campus police training for active shooters will be more complicated. Procedures will be needed for identifying the shooter(s) vs. CHL holders, assuming the shooter does not hold a CHL.”

ST:  There is really no reason why the campus carry bill should change university police training or tactics. There is no need to try and “identify CHLs and differentiate them from an assailant.” The CHL knows that they are responsible for their actions and they are keenly aware of the proper protocol for self-preservation. The only difference will be that CHLs are now allowed to carry in buildings so I would certainly hope that whatever training they think is necessary for having CHLs “on campus” is already in effect.

 It does seem reasonable in light of the current leadership that the ASU police should receive some extended classroom training regarding CHLs as they are obviously not getting correct information from their management structure.

Oh, and nice cheap shot on the shooter being a CHL.

“Police will need to deal with students with handguns and ammunition in prohibited areas of campus in the case they pull a Darby and forget what's in their bag.”

ST:  Unless they are planning on buying metal detectors and turning the UC in to a court house, police will likely rarely if ever encounter “students pulling a Darby” as the C in CHL stands for concealed so unless they happen to need it, no one would ever know they had a gun. In the off chance that a CHL holder prints, shows, or more likely a magazine falls out of their pocket and they happen to be somewhere designated a “gun free zone” police would handle it just the same as any other violation of this sort anywhere else. It is nothing special or new that would require extra training.

“They may need to envision a student in a mental health crisis obtaining a weapon from another student with a concealed handgun license.” 

ST:  Police have already “envisioned a student in a mental health crisis obtaining a weapon” that is the whole reason behind and basis of, most active shooter training. Now, the notion that a new and important problem is these potential nut jobs obtaining their weapon from a CHL holder is nothing less than asinine. There goes that pesky little “C” in CHL again. It would be far more likely for this mental health crisis nut to obtain their weapon from family member, store or even a police officer or police vehicle. About the least likely place for a nut to obtain a weapon is a from a CHL holder – mainly because he/she would never know who they are.

“Universities will need to consider additional training for student/faculty CHL holders as how to respond to an active shooter situation. That is not covered under Texas CHL training. Until the parties with guns know their role, responsibilities and how to communicate with law enforcement under an active shooter situation, universities could return to the wild, wild West. Fortunately, there's a year to work on these issues should Governor Abbott sign the bill.”

ST:  Not just no, but hell no – this is way, way off the mark.

Except for a very limited number of K-12 school teachers (with CHL licenses) that have been given special permission (and private tactical training) to carry on school property for the express purpose of deterring, preventing, stopping or at least limiting the damage from an attack on their school, armed CHL holders do not “respond” to anything. Response to an active shooter on campus is not specifically covered in CHL training as it is in no way meant to be a tactical education. CHLs are not there for any of the above mentioned duties and do not need to be trained for them.

 CHL holders are however trained to “know, their role, responsibilities and how to communicate with law enforcement under an active shooter situation” it’s just apparently not the role, responsibilities and communication that you apparently think it is. CHLs carry weapons to defend themselves and their families as a last resort only if someone threatens their life or the lives of their family. If there is an opportunity to remove themselves from the situation, most will take it.

I also don’t recall the universities ever being in the wild, wild, west so I don’t believe they will be “returning” now that Abbott has signed the bill. Unfortunately CHLs will have to spend another year defenseless on campus but I guess they can use that time to educate the many people that apparently have no idea what concealed carry actually entails.

I'd like to think I have a better idea now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

City Changes Stance on Twin Buttes

Twin Buttes Reservoir’s Marina Park will be open for camping only Friday through Sunday. All other gates leading to the reservoir will be locked.

 The road to Marina Park will be barricaded and manned to screen those entering to ensure they are there to camp and that they do not possess fireworks. Twin Buttes is owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which prohibits the possession or discharge of fireworks on its property.

Camping will also be allowed off of the reservoir’s equalization channel, which connects its north and south pools. Campers must call the San Angelo Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch number, 325-657-4315, to request an officer to unlock the gates and give them access.

Note:  This press release came from Mayor Morrison.  I thank him for his responsiveness.

July 4th Shutdown in San Angelo

The City of San Angelo has long treated Twin Buttes Reservoir as a mere afterthought.  Significant resources have gone to Lake Nasworthy and a mere pittance toward Twin Buttes in my twenty one years here.  Ever since the lessee walked in 1996 the city provided minimal services with begrudging effort.  Essentially the only service left was fireworks cleanup from Twin Buttes annual trashing.  Now that's gone.

The contrast between Nasworthy and Twin Buttes can be seen in the city's approach to big events.  How much did the city spend to cleanup up after last weekend's Lake Nasworthy boat races, known as The Showdown in San Angelo?  Compare that with Twin Buttes July 4th shutdown.  I wrote my City Councilman and the Mayor Monday evening and so far I've not gotten a response.  I'll post it if one arrives. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Twin Buttes Closed for July 4th Weekend

The City of San Angelo informed the public that Twin Buttes Reservoir will be closed July 4th weekend, citing last year's problems with fireworks trash.  The public got less than a week's notice that they will be unable to enjoy one of San Angelo's three lakes.

The Bureau of Reclamation has an agreement with the City of San Angelo to operate the park on the north shore of the North Pool. The Bureau of Reclamation highlights recreation use at its locations, including Twin Buttes Reservoir.

Manages, with partners, 289 recreation sites that have 90 million visits   annually.
There will be no visits this weekend.   It's unclear if City Council played a role in this major policy change.  Council did approve a Master Recreation Plan for Twin Buttes in 2013.  The city solicited public input into the plan, something not sought in the July 4th shutdown. 

The plan recommended a number of items that could've reduced the trash concern, if implemented:

 It also encouraged the city to plan and conduct special events, the opposite of complete park closure:

For July 4th weekend 2015 the city will decrease use of the recreation area to zero.  Because the city can't manage its annual trash problem responsible citizens will be shut out.  It's the latest poorly planned, poorly executed and poorly communicated decision by city staff.

CC 5-21-13 twin buttes recreation use plan from City of San Angelo Texas

Cross posted from Twin Buttes Reservoir blog    

Update 6-30-15:  A federal official from the Bureau of Reclamation weighed in on the city's decision.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Who's Behind "Toilet to Tap" Robocalls?

The computer generated phone message warned citizens about City Council's decision to reuse waste water.  They called the decision "toilet to tap" and encouraged citizens to speak out against it.  San Angelo is not the first community to face this issue:

Opposition comes more from a knee-jerk response to wastewater--the "yuck" factor--than from concerns about the water's chemical composition. In people's minds it's "once in contact, always in contact," explains Rozin. "Even if you convince people you did every conceivable thing to [purify] the water they would still be reluctant to drink it.
It wasn't clear from the call what group is behind opposing the potable use of reclaimed water.  However, one group is the current beneficiary of the city's waste water, irrigation farmers in the Tom Green County Water Control and Improvement District

Tom Green County WCID #1 is served by a concrete lined canal with 117 field turn-outs providing irrigation water for approximately 10,000 to 15,000 acres of farmland.

San Angelo's treated waste water is delivered via pipe to the district's canal.  

(Annually since 2003) the city delivered 8,750 acre-feet — 2.8 billion gallons — of treated wastewater to the 16-mile canal, which runs northeast from Lake Nasworthy to just past the small community of Veribest.

The agreement is set to expire in 2031, the year the district will finish paying off the $2 million canal. The city will finish paying off the $13 million Twin Buttes Dam in 2015.
Former Water Czar Will Wilde is a cotton farmer in the TGCWCID.  I'm sure he and his fellow farmers want to keep access to cheap treated waste water.  They no longer have insider Wilde's protection.  Might that require more drastic measures, like robo calling? 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Animal Shelter's Longstanding Stench Lingers

Most local organizations would love to have a volunteer kickoff meeting with sixty highly motivated people in attendance.  They'd be thrilled with volunteers cleaning their workplace to the extent that it abated a five year stench.  They would be joyful over volunteer groups conducting fundraisers, providing needed supplies (such as food and medicines) and using their talents to help sick animals return to health.  Who wouldn't love volunteers videoing adoptable pets for the public to see online?

The City of San Angelo is not most organizations.  New managers James Flores and Bob Salas, known for successfully working with volunteers on an annual community cleanup, threw up their bureaucratic hands when volunteers shared concerns or asked questions about the care, treatment and euthanizing of shelter animals.

James Flores calls it "my shelter", telling language in and of itself.  Bob Salas is more refined, but clearly volunteers are not to use their significant skills and intrinsic motivation to help the plight of San Angelo's incarcerated animals.

The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, formerly the Animal Services Board, sets overall policy.  One of those is volunteer use.  Rules can made to include or exclude as new leaders "develop a robust volunteer program." (priority #5 on the city's website). 

For five years Assistant City Manager Rick Weiss and Health Department Director Sandra Villareal allowed a literal house of horrors to exist in San Angelo's animal shelter.  There is an answer as to how dogs became pregnant in the shelter, courtesy of Charlotte Farmer's cheap inmate labor.  The list of abuses under former Director Julie Vrana is long and stomach churning.

City leaders need to come clean with the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee, because the Board has an obligation to ensure a more competent, humane course.  Most of the sixty new volunteers worked outside the auspices of the Animal Shelter the last five years.  Former Director Julie Vrana shut them out and it looks like her replacements may do likewise. 

When leaders are more concerned about image everybody suffers.  It's a travesty that innocent animals end up bearing the greatest burden.  I hear the stench has already returned. 

Update 6-20-15:  San Angelo city ordinances clearly spell out what police department volunteers can and cannot do.   That means City Council will take up any Animal Shelter volunteer ordinances.  I imagine Council will want to know the Animal Board's position.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sad State of City Streets

I asked the following question to a professional engineer regarding the City of San Angelo's draft street condition report.

Q:  Do you have any thoughts on what color roads should not be seal coated, i.e. they need a greater amount of work?  Is there a logical break in the scale for the amount of maintenance/reconstruction work needed? 

A:  It’s complicated. Pavement condition drops very quickly if routine preventative maintenance (crack seal, level up and seal coat) is not applied at the proper interval.

As illustrated by the sharp decline in the curve on the graph above at approximately the 10 year pavement life, when the PCI gets to a “critical point” which is typically around a PCI of 75, if sealcoat is not applied (and if crack seal and level up has not been done) the condition of the pavement declines rapidly beyond where preventative maintenance is no longer effective and more intensive and costly reactive maintenance or “rehabilitation” (mill and overlay, partial reconstruction and remove and replace) is needed.

It’s very easy to see from the COSA map that you provided to me that 1) The City has not had an adequate routine maintenance program for quite some time and 2) The dollars that have been spent on pavement maintenance in the last 10 years or so have been almost completely wasted. It would be interesting to see what the map looked like 10-15 years ago.