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The QueQue

The QueQue: Tower of Hope's whistleblower alleges school refused protections, Wentworth files defamation suit

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Beatrice McKinnon and family attend a vigil Sunday to remember victims of East Side violence. McKinnon's brother, U.S. Air Force vet Charles Ray English, was shot multiple times and killed on an East Crockett Street porch late last year in a wave of violence that rocked the East Side. Local, state, and federal officials this month heralded the results of a months-long East Side crackdown that resulted in 738 arrests (338 for felony charges) along with major firearms and drug seizures. Councilwoman Ivy Taylor and local police have scheduled an East Side community meeting on public safety for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Barbara Jordan Community Center (2803 E Commerce). For more info, contact Taylor's office at (210) 207-2122. 

At issue is Jones' recent radio spot that, among other allegations, charges Wentworth of billing both the state and his campaign fund for the same travel expenses, "which include gasoline to fuel his Lexus, which he leases with campaign money." Wentworth, in the suit filed last week, calls the allegations bogus and says they wrongly imply criminality. "Jones has, in media advertisements, falsely accused Senator Wentworth of what amounts to 'double-dipping' for certain reimbursable expenses incurred in his official business as a member of the Texas Legislature — in essence, the commission of a crime," his lawsuit states.

Wentworth has his own explanation for the expenses, saying he advanced expenses in the form of a loan from his official campaign account, then, when reimbursed by the state, repaid the campaign coffers. In a counterclaim filed in court late last week, Jones called the suit "an overtly politically-inspired press-generating gambit." She doubled down on the accusations Wentworth's suing over, saying in a statement, "It is undeniable that Senator Wentworth has billed his campaign for travel-related expenses, then been personally 'reimbursed' by the state of Texas for those same travel-related expenses. That is called 'double-dipping.'"

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Experts say EAA v. Day ruling will intimidate groundwater districts

The landmark state Supreme Court ruling on the Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day water case this year threw a wrench into Texas' already wobbly groundwater management system. While it ruled landowners have an absolute, vested right to water beneath their feet, the court dodged the crucial issue of how and when regulation of that resource amounts to an unfair government "taking."

Greg Ellis, former general manager of the Edwards Aquifer Authority and now a lawyer representing groundwater districts across the state, said this week the ruling has tied the hands of Texas' 96 local groundwater conservation districts stretching across the state charged with regulating groundwater pumping to keep aquifers healthy. Since the Day ruling, districts have feared denying permits, he said, worrying litigation or high-dollar compensation claims could result. "What the Day case has already led us to is this water symposium where you've got nothing other than lawyers up here talking about water," Ellis said at a panel gathered at Trinity University last week.

Questions left in the wake of the Supremes' decision, Ellis said, include: If everyone owns the water beneath their property, how much of it do they have a right to? Do urban and suburban landowners have the unrestricted right to drill wells? And who pays for "takings" claims should districts have to restrict pumping?

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