The Values of the District Attorney’s Office

Last week we listened to Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney’s Leadership presentation.

It is less a lesson in leadership, although valuable in its own right, than it is a glimpse into the values of the District Attorney’s office. If your organization needs a speaker it will do well to ask Matt to make his presentation. It can easily fit into a month of Sunday school lessons.

At the Sandstorm Scholar we are highly critical of all law enforcement agencies. Only a fool blindly trusts government, but we respect and appreciate what Matt Powell has managed. His faith appears to reign in the temptation to exceed the authority of his office.

His constitutional charge is to do justice. We laud that. And we demand nothing less.

Please, keep up the good work, Matt.

The Llano Estacado

“The term llano estacado is usually translated as “staked plain.” But that is not what Coronado meant when he named it. He meant “palisaded plain,” meaning a plain that begins (or ends) in a steep cliff.”

Excerpt From: S. C. Gwynne. “Empire of the Summer Moon.” Scribner. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Chamber President’s Arrogance Threatens LEPAA


We believe that the $85 million performing arts center as proposed by the Lubbock Entertainment & Performing Arts Association (or LEPAA) is worthy of support. It is a grand plan and will stand out as a symbol of private sector philanthropy and determination independent of government control. We support the efforts of Tim Collins and other citizens involved in this private project.

What taxpayers are put off by is the presumptuousness demonstrated by the hireling behind the movement. It is unseemly and inappropriate. If the City Council determines to donate prime real estate and to also pay to demolish the existing structure we will support the decision however $200,000+ is a significant sum of money and ought not be spent indifferently.

The Chamber President is an employee who will be long gone while Lubbock is still paying the costs of the projects he proposes. For that reason his disdain of Council caution ought not mean very much. His arrogance threatens to turn public sentiment against a worthwhile project.

From Thursday’s lead article by Adam Young in the Lubbock AJ comes this excerpt:

“Eddie McBride, president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce — which spearheaded the performing arts center project — called the council’s delay an unnecessary ‘last-minute’ decision in a process that’s been ongoing for more than a year.

“’I was surprised the city didn’t already have the estimated cost,” he said. “No one asked anyone to sign a blank check. I think that was a little over the top.’”

We think his comments are over the top. The Chamber President’s employers ought seat him in the back row and take away his letter writing and interview privileges.


Abortion as Race Control

While people can occasionally manipulate events to achieve desired long-term results more often than not the Law of Unintended Consequences plays a greater hand in things. The Texas Senate’s raucous debate in on stricter abortion laws is no exception. While Republicans lost the day their loss may result in their preservation long term.

Tuesday night the Texas Senate failed to pass a bill that would have created stricter abortion laws. We favor that. It is our opinion that abortion as birth control is murder. One has a right to decide to not create a life however one does not have a right to destroy that life four months in the womb or four months out of it. The recent trial and conviction of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell revealed the true obscenity of the procedure: living babies drowned or killed by snipping their spinal cord with scissors.

When we take that obscenity from the microcosm of Gosnell’s clinic to the macrocosm of U.S. abortion statistics we find that abortion has effectively been a race exterminator. According to the U.S. Census Bureau blacks have consistently had three times the abortion rate of whites: 48.2 per thousand black women vs. 13.8 per thousand white women in 2007. In races listed as other the rate was 21.6 per thousand for the same year. Those numbers are down from a high in 1990 of 63.9 per thousand for black women and 21.5 for white women with other races ranked at 25.1 for that same year.

Margaret-Sanger-and-The-Negro-Project~~element74Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a devout racist. She wrote of her Negro Project, “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” Black feminist Angela Davis referred to this statement as evidence of Sanger’s desire to exterminate the African-American people. While some revisionist historians have attempted to refute that claim Sanger’s word still ring loudly and are consistent with her convictions.

What we have is a liberal epidemic of race control. The results are unarguable. And if we assume that for the foreseeable future blacks will continue to vote overwhelmingly Democratic then Texas Democrats may have prolonged their minority status with the sanctioned killing of black babies at three times the rate of white babies.

Too morbid for words? We agree.

Drunk on His Own Whine


History has a way of auto-romanticizing. It strips itself of the bad smells, obnoxious personality traits and instinctive class distinctions that accompany real life. Today we revere figures like Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Sam Houston or Winston Churchill, to name but a few, however if we’d lived contemporaneously with them or many of their well-known peers we might have had second thoughts about them. Patrick Henry of “give me liberty or give me death” fame fought ratification of the Constitution because it gave the federal government too much power; Franklin was a womanizer who insisted on bringing up that pesky issue of slavery in the 1790’s when most wanted to leave well enough alone; Houston was a drunk who fought against Texas’ secession and lost the vote 171-6; Winston Churchill, often acceptably inebriated, spent more of his days as a back bencher and reject of the British people than he did its leader. All were highly criticized, themselves critical of others, rejected, fought lost causes, had ugly personality traits and one or most probably were the kind of people many readers would not long countenance in personal association.

Institutions and conventions of today exist only after having been forged by the fires of examination and debate. Great projects often were failures in their inception. The first attempt at the Panama Canal resulted in the era’s largest bankruptcy and its present day usefulness does not argue for the fraud and failure of its initial attempts.

The Lubbock Chamber of Commerce President recently published to the local newspaper a rant that surely must have been written while drinking too much his own whine. We suspect that after he sobered from his self-pitying, back-patting stupor he was sorry he wrote it. It was a drawer-letter if ever we’ve read one. He should have written it, put it in a drawer, and left it there having gratified his need to howl at the moon without the indecency of having committed publicus of equus asinus.

The gist of the Chamber leader’s letter, found below, seems to be resentment that the Chamber’s fantasies are questioned. It seems inconceivable to him that there are good citizens who together imagine Lubbock a place of low taxes that is relatively free from the strings attached to federal funds. At the Sandstorm Scholar we’re impressed with some of the Imagine Lubbock Together plans we’ve been shown, even if we could have written most of the conclusions before they went through the theatrics of an 18 month pep rally. So long as they keep their promises to fund their performing arts center privately and to provide an endowment for its operating expenses, we like the idea. No one has discovered “666” marked on the underside of any smart meter and we had to Google “Delphi Method” to recognize the techniques used in almost every professed consensus building exercise we’ve been involved in.

But neither our impressions nor the tender feelings of the Chamber leader negate the validity of the critics or their right to be heard. A bank doesn’t ask a non-equity employee to sign the promissory note for his employer’s loan. Nor do we ask the guarantee of a hireling that “these folks are looking out for Lubbock’s best interests.” He’s signing notes he hasn’t the credit to back when he presupposes to know what are the best interests of Lubbock or the motives of his employers. Give us the pure capitalism of selfish financial motives any day. Those we can understand and trust. When someone’s business prospers others find opportunity in spinoff commerce and competition.

We’re not suspicious of the Chamber. It’s doing what chambers of commerce and their bureaucrats do. It isn’t necessary to demonize the Chamber to debate its proposals nor should our elected officials be neutered of opinions or banned from participation. But when we become so enamored with the idea that we have ideas, or so attached to our ILTs, that our feelings are hurt when we are challenged then it is probably time to regroup and do an attitude check. Conversely, labeling something as being “Agenda 21” is its own tactic of tainting the opponent rather than arguing the merits. If local government approval or public funding are sought for these imaginary projects then debate outside of the strictures of the Chamber ought to be encouraged.

No whining allowed.




Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / June 4, 2013

The Imagine Lubbock Together effort during the past 20 months delivered an opportunity for community development our city has not experienced since May 1970 and the tornado that devastated a portion of Lubbock.

The current visioning and planning provides Lubbock citizens the most inclusive planning event in which the community has ever had the chance to participate. Yet there are still those few dissatisfied and disgruntled citizens who see it best to find fault with the process and don’t trust private business leaders who facilitated this planning to help improve Lubbock’s future.

Among the accusations are: UN Agenda 21 sustainable development planning, smart meters, ICLEI, huge tax increases, eminent domain, Delphi techniques, federal funding and only 3,000 Lubbock citizens actually participated — to name but a few.

Using that same openness, I express my thanks to the Imagine Lubbock Together steering committee, volunteers who many have given significant time and money back to this community over the years and are all known as people of integrity who would never intentionally do anything to harm the community.

I guarantee these folks are looking out for Lubbock’s best interests and actively working to do something positive as opposed to those claims.

So, on behalf of those of us who see the positive nature of Imagine Lubbock Together and future growth of our community from this process, thank you to the leaders who are helping make Lubbock a better place to live.

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce


randy_neugebauerWisconsin has Paul Ryan. Kentucky has Rand Paul. West Texas has Randy “Baby Killer” Neugebauer. Is it any wonder we’re disappointed?

Yesterday (June 10) “Randy’s Round-Up” contained this statement on Neugebauer’s position regarding NSA monitoring of American citizens phone use.

“I want to know more about how this data is being collected and used. I also want to be certain our intelligence agencies are confident that they have effective controls in place to ensure data collection on U.S. citizens is not abused and respects Americans’ right to privacy. This is a complex issue, and I think it’s important that we proceed carefully as we learn more. I’ll keep you posted on how this develops, and what comes next.”

What did he say? He licked his finger and stuck it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing; that’s what he did. His position sounds a lot like President Obama’s. And, incidentally, we are told that behind the scenes the Congressman is testing the waters on universal background checks for firearms purchases while he considers crossing over to the dark side on that issue too.

Randy’s problem is that the only stand he cares to make is for principal…not principle. Was that too subtle? Allow us to restate it. We favor the accumulation of wealth; we recommend it highly. We think it’s even better for someone to get rich and then to run for Congress. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with someone running for Congress then enriching himself in office. That’s the bottom line of the Neugebauer legacy.

Yesterday, when we looked to him for assurance that our elected Representative would stand up for our civil liberties Congressman Randy Neugebauer chose to sit.

Randy can’t do any better, but West Texas can and it’s time we did.


raider_baseball Lots has changed with Texas Tech Athletics in the past few years. The chancellor, having put his signal stain of double-dealing on the department, has micromanaged it into a program wide rebuilding mode. Most of the faces are new. Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt has our confidence and goodwill as he gains control of his program and remakes it from the ground up.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the character of the Tech student athlete. These young men and women carry full loads while also working at what is often the equivalent of a full-time job. If there was ever a time when a student athlete could get away with bad behavior that era is gone. They are now under constant scrutiny from their fellow students, teachers, coaches, teammates and the media.

It isn’t unusual for an all-star on the field to also be an all-star off the field. Strong work habits and self-discipline transfer from the ball field to the classroom. It is no accident that that former student athletes are so regularly successful in business. They’ve already learned that hard work produces tangible rewards.

Moreover, student athletes are expected to be role models in giving back. Nothing exemplifies that better than Texas Tech Baseball Coach Tim Tadlock’s players taking time out this week while at the conference tournament in Oklahoma City to work at the Goodwill Center. It’s no publicity stunt nor mere photo op. Those men are the real deal. And they are not unique among student athletes at Texas Tech. Having worked around them for years we are convinced that they are a cut above the average college student in a generation that is itself more service oriented than was our own.

Kudos to the parents, coaches and staff who have influenced these young adults to be givers and to realize there is a bigger world than theirs. They make us proud.


wolfforth-tx If you’ve spent much time watching “Andy Griffith Show” reruns you’ll remember the episode in which Deputy Barney Fife bought a motorcycle and sidecar for the department. The presumption being that Mayberry’s sheriff’s department needed a motorcycle to keep up with the times and other departments. Of course, no sooner did they get the motorcycle than did it cause trouble and cost money.

This month the city of Wolfforth proudly unveiled its new (slightly used) five ton mobile command vehicle. Now at first glance, we might ask what business does a west Lubbock County town with a population of 3,670 have buying a mobile command vehicle? There’s no crime wave in Wolfforth requiring a mobile emergency operations center. The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office has a state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle intended to service agencies across the South Plains. To date, busting a teen with a joint in his car has not required calling out the Sheriff’s Office mobile command vehicle. And, we’re thankful to say, that’s about the extent of crime fighting necessary in Wolfforth, America. We’re Mayberry and proud to be so.

The fact is, Mayberry didn’t need a motorcycle with a sidecar and Wolfforth doesn’t need a mobile command vehicle. And if it had purchased one, we’d be highly critical. But this four wheel drive mobile police fantasy was free. Like Barney’s sidecar, it is a piece of military surplus equipment. Obtained as surplus property through Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Wolfforth’s five ton mobile command vehicle has only about 1,000 hours and 2,400 miles and came with a new paint job. All it cost the city was the price of the fuel expended to go get it. A bargain at twice the price. At least until it needs new tires at an estimated cost of $15,000. Or until they equip it with radio communications gear that costs tens of thousands of dollars. After all, a mobile command vehicle with only a cellphone is just a high-priced travel trailer. Then it becomes less of a bargain for a town that struggles with basic infrastructure issues such as sewer and water. Are there any military surplus sewer systems in that 1033 program? Probably not.

Anticipated uses are, well….we can’t really anticipate a use because no one can cite anything in the past that required this little burg to have a remote emergency operations center. After all, Wolfforth is only three miles long and, at its widest, two miles across. But fear not citizens, should the need arise, and if the ultra-modern Sheriff’s Office mobile operations center already equipped to serve Lubbock and fourteen other counties is unavailable, then Wolfforth is prepared with its very own military surplus five ton mobile operations vehicle.

We recall as teenagers the admonition our parents gave when we set off in a group: “remember who you are” they said. If there is a cautionary tone in our tale it is here. We see an increasing trend towards the militarization of our police forces. This is due in part to laws that have created a drug war we cannot possibly win; we are out funded and outmanned. Another reason is that when there exist too many law enforcement people with too many toys they find something to do and that’s not always a good thing. The Wolfforth Police Department has long served its citizens well with courtesy and with a knowledge of what it is: a small town police force. Let’s hope they remember who they are.


Lubbock County Courthouse A reader’s post regarding his LP&L experience reminds us of our frustration calling into the Lubbock County Courthouse yesterday.

Initially, you receive a 30 second greeting in English, then a redirect to press 1 if you want English. What? I thought we just heard this in English?

After three calls and finally learning to maneuver within the system quickly it still took exactly one minute and thirty seconds for me to hear the # for the extension I wanted to reach (Elections Office). If you try to shortcut the system to an operator by pressing “0” it redirects you to the beginning. “Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.”

Now of all of the places to cut the budget, why did the commissioners choose the primary interface the public has with the Courthouse? Possibly because they aren’t inconvenienced by the system themselves since they call on direct lines? Wouldn’t you think they could lend to the taxpayers a live person who at least answers the phone when you press “0”?

The Lubbock County Commissioners Court may not be broken, but it is a 4-cylinder engine limping along on 3 worn out spark plugs and one shiny new one who, we hear, is trying hard to not become co-opted by the system.

We’ve yet to figure out what it takes to get their attention. Complaints about the phone system fall on deaf ears. We’ve tried that.

Where does that leave us?


I went through lots of phases growing up. I wanted to be an FBI man, a Secret Service agent, a defense attorney and even a preacher but I never wanted to be a fireman. I’m not that brave.

Of all of the images of the World Trade Center collapse on 9/11 that haunt me, the one that I cannot shake is the image of a company of firemen preparing to enter the North Tower. One of them, a young man, was visibly pumping himself up, readying himself to go into a situation that logic and experience must have told him he may not survive. But he did anyway. I still wonder what happened to that young man. What I do know is that 343 fire fighters lost their lives that day.

In West, Texas last week, a town just larger than Idalou, ten firemen lost their lives. These men were trained, experienced first responders. They must have known that the fertilizer fire they were fighting was likely to result in an explosion but they stayed, protecting the lives and homes of the people they served. They did their jobs.

What kind of courage is that? It is beyond my comprehension. But I know this, I am thankful for people who do their jobs. It makes me wonder if we don’t need a few fire fighters in public office and if maybe we shouldn’t send a few officeholders to the firehouse to infuse in them a little backbone.

—Sandstorm Scholar