Ellis County Observer publisher Joey Dauben finally gets a court-appointed attorney

Joey Dauben

Joey Dauben, the publisher of the now-defunct Ellis County Observer, finally got to see a court-appointed lawyer this week to help him fight the three felony counts of child sexual abuse that have kept him in the Navarro County Jail without legal advice for almost two months now.

Edward Jendrzey, whose office is in Waxahachie in Ellis County, received the court-ordered appointment Thursday, Feb. 16. Jendrzey accepted the case after Steve Keathley, a Corsicana attorney whose wife is the president of the Navarro County Bar Association, declined an appointment by District Court Judge James Lagomarsino to represent the journalist.

In a telephone interview today, Jendrzey said, “Yes, he knows I’m representing him,” when asked whether he had met with his new client, who reached out for help from the media this week in a handwritten letter from jail. When a defendant declares himself to be indigent and asks for a court-appointed attorney, that is supposed to occur within 72 hours. In the letter, Dauben also again claimed he is innocent of the charges.

Jendrzey said his first step in Dauben’s representation will be to conduct an independent investigation of the case to learn the circumstances and to attempt to get Dauben’s $200,000 bond set by Lagomarsino lowered. “I’ll be meeting with the prosecutor about that,” Jendrzey said. Dauben’s family and friends have been unable to raise the 10 percent (or $20,000) payment bond agencies typically charge to get a defendant released from jail.

—  admin

Become a part of the Gender Book

The Gender BookThe Gender Book is an effort to try to bring together, in one resource, a discussion of the wide array of gender expressions and identities that fall under the transgender umbrella. It’s creators are holding a brainstorming session next Thursday evening, December 8, to get public input and allow the community at large to become a part of the project.

“We sort of just made the Gender Book out of a need that we felt,” says Mel Reiff Hill, one of the collaborators on the project, along with Boston Bostian and Jay Mays. Hill says that the creators of the Gender Book searched for resources to help them talk about gender, but were unable to find anything that met their needs. “I had a boyfriend who had to pay a therapist to attend training on gender so that he could get the care he needed,” says Hill “the resources just weren’t out there.”

“At the time we were all living in the same house and we had a writer and an artist and a fundraising person and an enteprenuer. All of us were under the transgender umbrella in one way or another and all of us had friends and lovers who are as well,” and thus the Gender Book was born.

Hill describes the brainstorming session as “an interactive community party.” “We’re the first to admit that we can’t represent everyone,” says Hill, recognizing the limitations of any author writing on such a diverse topic. “We’ll have surveys for people to fill out and snacks and coloring book versions for people to fill out”

The coloring book pages are the result of Hill’s process in illustrating the book. Hill first draws pages in pencil then outlines the drawings in pen and erases the pencil, finally scanning the drawing and coloring it by computer. “I presented a workshop with some high schoolers and I was showing one of them my binder of papers looking through it one of them saw the original pen drawings,” says Hill. “He was like ‘you should give these to high schoolers, they love coloring it’s very zen-like for them.’” Hill says that the coloring pages have proved a hit at subsequent workshops and a great way to open up conversations about gender.

The brainstorming session, coloring pages included, is next Thursday, December 8, at the Lawndale Art Center (4912 Main). Attendees are asked to RSVP through Facebook.

More information on the Gender Book is available through their website, TheGenderBook.com.

—  admin

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Unable To Hire Cabinet Due to Pay Limits, ME Gov-Elect LePage Hires Daughter. REALLY.

Chalk up another to the “You Can’t Make This Shite Up” Files. Oh, we’re having LOTS of fun up here in Maine- not just blizzards, but a series of snowjobs!

During the election season, we up here in Maine heard a LOT about how much taxpayer dollars were being wasted on state employees. How we needed a CHANGE; a fresh approach!

Then immediately after winning with a resounding mandate of 38.1% of the vote, Paul LePage declared that he was going to hire the best and the brightest, as well as swore there would be transparency in everything he did.

Did anyone ELSE think this was a load of buffalo gigolo bullshite?

Well, we were RIGHT.

The “snow” first started to fly a few weeks ago when the Gubinator decided to hire Teabagger Extraordinaire Maine Refounder/ Paint Maine Red leader Pete “The Carpenter” Harring as part of his transition team. Ole “Pete the Red” is infamous for this quote:


“Liberals are like slinkys and that’s because they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.”

Yeah. That really helps set a bi-partisan and professional gubernatorial tone, eh?

Then earlier this month, LePage made headlines, crying over how he wasn’t able to hire “the best and brightest” after all- because of the mean ole State of Maine rules that limit pay to Cabinet members! WAAAAAH!



AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov.-elect Paul LePage says he hopes to have his Cabinet named by the end of the year, but in an interview he acknowledged that state laws limiting how much he can pay those department heads have cost him some of his first choices.
“You try to get as much money as you possibly can for them, and if that is not enough, you have to go to No. 2, 3 and down the list,” he said. “I will emphatically say it is adversely affecting our ability to get the best people,” LePage said.

LePage said it is not only the private sector that is paying more than Maine state government, it is other state governments as well as he has searched nationwide to fill Cabinet positions.

“Not everyone can afford to take a 70 percent cut in pay to serve their state,” LePage said. He said he is taking a 70 percent cut from his salary as CEO at Marden’s. The governor’s salary is set in state law at ,000.

But… but… we pay our state employees TOO MUCH, Paulie!

So, finding himself with absolutely no one else who could possibly be better qualified to work in the Statehouse, Paul LePage decided to hire someone with no political background- or work background, for that matter. His 22 year old daughter Lauren.



Dear Ole Dad Demonstrates for Lauren and media his best air guitar rendition of “Money Changes Everything”.


AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov.-elect Paul LePage has appointed his daughter, Lauren, to a staff position within the upper echelon of his administration, members of the LePage transition team said Wednesday.

Lauren LePage, 22, will serve as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, John McGough – a position that administration officials describe as entry-level and is commensurate with her experience, work history and education.

LePage, a recent college graduate, will be a salaried political appointee earning approximately ,000 a year, according to Dan Demeritt, incoming director of communications in the LePage administration.

Maine governors have wide discretion in creating staff positions within their offices, filling those positions and setting salaries. Because such appointments are political positions – known as “special assistants to the governor” – there are no rules barring Maine’s chief executive from hiring family members.

In a communication with the LePage team, Joyce Oreskovitch, acting director of human resources for the state, affirmed that Maine’s rules on prohibiting nepotism do not apply in such staffing decisions.

On Wednesday, Lauren LePage said that although she did not study politics in college, she enjoyed her work on the gubernatorial campaign and saw this as a unique opportunity.

Much more below the fold.
Demeritt penned the following “Maine Opinion” published in spoiler Eliot Cutler’s bff Richard Connor’s rag, the previously revered Portland Press Herald. Some snips:



Maine Voices: Lauren LePage perfect choice to serve in a LePage administration

The governor-elect is wise to fill a key assistant position with someone he knows he can trust.

AUGUSTA – Just before Christmas, Gov.-elect Paul LePage announced his decision to add his daughter Lauren to his staff. Many have been fixated on what Lauren LePage gets by joining the incoming governor’s staff. Please take just a second and think about why this is a smart and honest move for Paul LePage.

Paul LePage is about to become the chief executive officer of the state of Maine. He is promising to bring dramatic change to the way Maine works, and the political establishment in Augusta is beating the war drum.

The state employees union is telling its members they are in for the fight of their lives, and word on the street is that the Maine People’s Alliance is already circulating a petition to remove Paul LePage from office.

Going into what is certain to be an intense battle for Maine’s future, Paul LePage is seeking the counsel and assistance of people who are loyal to him and his agenda. Who better to watch out for his interests than his daughter in a key assistant position?… Lauren has been training for key elements of this job since birth.

My former Colby College professor, Sandy Maisel, said the hiring decision nearly took his breath away.

Find a chair, professor, because Paul LePage is going to make decisions that he thinks are right for Maine without giving a second thought to the political considerations.

Anyone else think the Maine forest is gonna be decimated with the flood of FOIA filings??

And for the record, the LePage paranoia regarding a recall is unwarranted. But I gotta admit, the idea is an interesting one!

Here was the Maine Democratic Party’s press release reaction:




LePage Friends and Family Plan

Promise to hire ‘best and brightest’ only applies to family and friends

AUGUSTA- Yesterday, members of Governor-elect Paul LePage’s staff confirmed that LePage had hired his daughter, Lauren LePage, to a high-paid position within the upper levels of his administration.

Ms. LePage, 22, is a recent college graduate with a few months of political experience on her father’s campaign and will be earning approximately ,000 per year. This figure is well above the current average for entry level jobs. According to the current administration, the average entry level salary is ,000.


“While I’m sure Ms. LePage is a bright young woman, this brazen display of political nepotism is disturbing,” said Mary Erin Casale, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party.

“Gov.-elect LePage made a promise to hire the ‘best and the brightest’, but it would seem that only his friends and family need apply. Who else was considered for this position? How was it advertised? Why is an entry level position being paid ,000 per year? These are questions that Mainers deserve answered.”

LePage campaigned on fiscal responsibility and complained about a ‘bloated’ government, yet just last week stated it was difficult to attract qualified candidates for commissioner positions due to low salaries. LePage also chose two close friends for commissioner positions – John Morris for Commissioner of Public Safety and Bill Beardsley to head the Department of Conservation.


“LePage hasn’t even been sworn in and he’s already going back on his campaign promises of attracting the best and the brightest. His staff and cabinets choices are his decision, but this ‘friends and family plan’ just displays the worst kind of business as usual,” said Casale.

From DownEast, the following reactions from Ben Grant of the Maine College Democrats:



Giving your daughter a job running the cash register at Marden’s is fine when you answer to no one except yourself, but the people of Maine expect more out of their state employees, and much better judgment from their Governor,” said MCD President Ben Goodman.

Other Mainers are furious as well as this disgusting act of placing family over an entire state, and a slew of anti-LePage websites and Facebook groups are rapidly popping up, thicker than mosquitoes, with some even having countdown clocks until he is out of office and a selection of bumper stickers.

A sampling:

When Life Gives You LePage.

Sh*t LePage Says.

Happy 2011, Paulie- and welcome to the Big Leagues. We don’t hold back- and we pitch them fast, hard and FURIOUS.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright