"For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light."
[UPDATE: DADGUM, literally ten minutes after we hit publish on this post, the Statesman reports Dukes won't be stepping down after all; but that doesn't change anything we said about the Trib's actions over the past 24 hours.]
This website tends to maintain a favorable opinion of the Texas Tribune. They routinely host informative public events and their "just the facts ma'am" reporting of the Capitol tends to be pretty solid. But certain acts of media corruption need to be called out for what they are:
As Texas lawmakers clock in for work on Tuesday, the first day of the 85th Legislative Session, one of their longtime colleagues is expected to call it quits.Really guys...you're ONLY noticing this now?!?
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, a Democrat, announced in late September that she planned to retire after more than two decades, but that she would not officially leave until Jan. 10.
Critics, including those hoping to replace her, point out that such a delay will leave Manor, Pflugerville and parts of Austin without representation for most of the legislative session as a special election cannot be called until she officially resigns.
Why wait to resign? Dukes, who is under criminal investigation by the Travis County District Attorney’s office amid allegations that she misused staff and government funds, won’t say. What is clear, however, is that the move will add $3,220 per year to her state pension.
The delay highlights a quirk in the way Texas calculates its often generous benefits packages for retired lawmakers: They can get credit for an extra year’s service without even taking a vote.
Elected officials can establish a “service credit” for “all or part” of any calendar year during which they held office or were eligible to take the oath of office, according to the Employees Retirement System of Texas.
So Dukes’ 10 days in January would boost her annual pension by $3,220.
Contrast the Trib's
Yesterday, Dawnna Dukes announced her intention to retire from the legislature...in four months; what gives?!?But, of course, September 2016 would have been before the November election, which means a critical mass of voters in East Austin still had time to figure out the final conclusion we drew when confronted with the same information:
Consider this number: $3220.
That's the increase in annual pension Dukes will receive, for life, by retiring with 22 years of 'service time' instead of 21.
One perk Texas Legislators receive (that they don't like to talk about) is access to the state's "judicial retirement" system. It's a form of kabuki theater that allows legislators to vote to increase their own pension without telling voters that's what they're doing. That's why, every session, there's always some hack who pushes bills and budget amendments to increase pensions "for our hardworking judges."
Bottom Line: Whatever your thoughts on the long-term future of the district, the only way to stop Dawnna Dukes from acquiring another $3220 (+) of taxpayer money every year for life is to elect Gabriel Nila in November.And we can't have a critical mass of legacy Democrats figuring that out before the election...right Texas Tribune?!?
Bottom Line: Whatever. You can't change the past. Still, if he's smart, Gabriel Nila will make abolishing state pensions for legislators (AND STATEWIDE OFFICIALS) a centerpiece of his special election campaign.