Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Finance Committee

Nov. 3, 2010

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 3rd day of November 2010, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

P R O C E E D I N G S

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Good morning, everybody.  Gosh, we’ve got a crowd in here.  Let’s see what time it is.  This meeting is called to order November 3rd, 2010, at about 9:10 a.m.  Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH:  I do, Mr. Chairman.  Thank you.

A public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State, as required by Chapter 551, Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act.  I would like for this fact to be noted in the official record of the meeting.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.  Thank you, Mr. Smith.

Before I turn the meeting over to Chairman Falcon on Finance, I want to mention that, for those of you who are here for ‑‑ regarding Item Number 2, the Val Verde County Land Project, Devils River State Natural Area Property Exchange in the Conservation Committee, which was going to be later this morning, but that particular item will be heard after we return from Executive Session, after lunch.

So I don’t know if there’s anybody here this morning for that.  We won’t be talking about that at all until after lunch, this afternoon.  Also, concerning that item, for tomorrow, the item ‑‑ the action item that was to be voted on, has been withdrawn from Thursday’s agenda.  So we will not be voting on it tomorrow and it will not be an action item tomorrow.  I just want to let everybody know that in case there’s anybody here for that particular item.

So with that, we will begin with the Finance Committee.  Chairman Falcon.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  The first order of business is the approval of the previous committee meeting minutes from the August 25th meeting, which have already been distributed.  Is there a motion for approval?

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  So move.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Mr. Bivins.

COMMISSIONER HIXON:  Second.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Hixon.  All in favor say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Opposed?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Okay.  The motion carries.  Committee Item Number 1.  Update on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Progress in Implementing the Department Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan.  Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH:  Mr. Chairman, thank you.

We don’t have any specific reports on any of the action items and specific deliverables at this meeting.  There are just a couple of things I want to bring to your attention.  For those of you who have not been to Sea Center, I hope you will go post haste.  That is one of our flagship sites inside the agency, there at Lake Jackson.  We’ve got a wonderful hatchery there but, just as importantly, we have an extraordinary education outreach center there in which we get 60,000 to 65,000 visitors a year, who can come learn about fisheries and fisheries management and aquatic resources ‑‑ really, really special.  And we kicked off the year certainly on a good foot.

On September 1st, we welcomed our one millionth visitor into the Sea Center since its inception.  Fitting that it was a young man, Jacob Thomas, seven years of age, so we’re hitting our demographic, which ain’t bad and he was appropriately rewarded.  Dow, a longstanding partner there, gave young Jacob, a lifetime membership to the Coastal Conservation Association, so off to a good start there.  Also got a customized rod and reel and got a fishing license.  So CCA made a contribution to it and Dow and then John Regnier gave him the customized rod and reel so not bad for young Jacob.  A good way to start off ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  He’s a happy camper.

MR. SMITH:  Yes.  Absolutely.  I hope he’s a lifetime fisherman.  So just ‑‑ and then, just two quick updates. You had been, I think, advertent to the development of our new automated business software, a way for us to absolutely do a better job kind of managing the agency’s finance, help account for our multi-fund accounting, good fiscal controls.  The team, really under Gene’s leadership, has been working on that for several years now.  That Oracle eBay system was officially rolled out at the first of the year and working through that and so glad to see that up and running.  Obviously, we’ll continue to work to perfect that system over the next year.

Also, you know, I think most of you are all aware that we have very unique customer call center that our state parks team operates.  It’s a wonderful group of men and women who take and make reservations for customers that want to go visit our state parks.  Those colleagues are just extraordinary and really have done a magnificent job of ‑‑ they all make sure that they get out and actually visit the state parks so that they’re speaking from experience and if a place is booked up, they can make alternative suggestions as to where folks ought to go.  So really doing a nice job.  Since we went live with TxParks, through September 30th, I think they’ve taken over 184,000 calls.  About a third of those have resulted in reservations, not only for our parks but we also take reservations for LCRA parks and also sell off-highway vehicle decals.  So the team’s doing a great job on that, Chairman, and just wanted to report on their prowess and progress so with that, I’ll turn it back over to you.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Perfect.  Thank you very much, Mr. Smith.

The second item is the Proposed Stamp and Print Artwork Program.  Ms. Frances Stiles and Mr. Martin Wood, would you please come up to make your presentation.

MS. STILES:  Good morning.  My name is Frances Stiles.  I’m with the Administrative Resources Division.  Each year the Commission has the artwork provided by Collectors Covey that is presented for review.  This artwork is then turned into prints by Collectors Covey and marketed and sold there.

We also ‑‑ Parks and Wildlife ‑‑ uses the images to create a collector’s stamp edition that is sold and Mr. Wood is here to introduce each of the pieces of artwork, for your review.

MR. WOOD:  Thank you, Frances.  Mr. Chairman, Commission.  This is the 31st year that I’ve come down and presented the art.  You know, my whole life has passed before me, you know, centered around the presentation of the stamp prints.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  This is the one day you look forward to.

MR. WOOD:  Yes, I know.  It really is.  I didn’t realize when we did this ‑‑ started this 31 years ago, that this is what I would ‑‑ sort of depressing when you really think about it but this is my life and so be it.  We have now paid the department 7,162,000 ‑‑ actually 163,000 dollars over that 31-year period, in royalty and stamp prints.  No other state remotely approaches those kind of numbers.  Of course, no other state’s Texas.  I mean, something that we’re incredibly ‑‑ it is our corporate identity.  You know, while it’s not near what it used to be, it’s still the most important thing in our corporate identity and, believe me, when you’re in the art business in 2010, you need something positive to identify you ‑‑ at least temporarily, if nothing else.

This year’s prints are ‑‑ you know, I’m going to start with the freshwater.  I tried for four years to get an artist to paint a catfish of any kind.  I mean, what better offer can you make to an artist ‑‑ you can paint any catfish you want.  And John Dearman has painted a channel cat ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Good.

MR. WOOD:  ‑‑ and I don’t think that’s going to, you know, affect sales materially, one way or the other, but it ‑‑ clearly it’s probably the number one game fish in Texas and, in fact, John has done 12 ‑‑ over the years ‑‑ he’s done 12 Texas stamp programs.  All ‑‑ he’s done at least one of every ‑‑ in every category and that’s what kind of pushed him over the edge.  I sort of told him that he owed it to us to do the catfish because he had got to do so many of the other ones.

And, John lives in Huntsville, Texas.  He’s really approaching icon status as a Texas artist and a good enough guy to paint a channel catfish.  That may be the first painting ever of a channel catfish, by anybody.  I’ve certainly never seen one.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Everybody catches them, likes to eat them, but nobody wants a picture of them on the wall.

MR. WOOD:  Can you imagine?  And, the saltwater stamp is by Randy McGovern.  He’s new to our stamp print program but he’s a very prominent stamp print artist, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Louisiana and we think he did a terrific job on ‑‑ you know, we really got two fish, trout and redfish and; you know, we try to throw in a flounder and a billfish of whatever but, bottom line is, we always come back to redfish and trout and the upland stamp is by Joe Hautman.  He’s one of the three somewhat famous Hautman brothers that dominate the Texas ‑‑ I mean, the federal duck stamp competition for the last 20 years.

Joe has also done our duck stamp.  An interesting ‑‑ well, I’ll have to save that for ‑‑ his brother Bob is doing our duck stamp.

The next painting is a painting by Al Barnes, who lives in Fulton, Texas, right next to Rockport, and Al, of course, is really ‑‑ probably as prominent an artist as there is in Texas now and the speckled bellies ‑‑ the federal duck stamp judging was about a month ago and I was busy laboring over a hot shotgun in Michigan and didn’t really ‑‑ I forgot that it happened and, when all the smoke cleared, Joe Hautman ‑‑ I mean, Bob Hautman and his brother Jim tied in the federal duck stamp contest and the brother, Jim, who’s done our duck stamp at least three times, won the federal duck stamp for the fourth time and Joe was runner-up and he didn’t really feel like that doing the Texas duck stamp was an appropriate consolation prize but it’s all he ended up with.

They both painted speckled belly geese for the federal.  The federal designates what ‑‑ they give you a very limited selection of subject matter and he did standing  ‑‑  he did a standing goose and his brother did two standing geese and two won over one, I guess, but anyway, those guys are really famous guys.  I mean, they’re the biggest names in the business.

I’d be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Well, I just appreciate the program.  I mean ‑‑

Excuse me, Chairman, I interrupted, but I’m glad you’ve been coming down for 31 years ‑‑

MR. WOOD:  I am, too.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ and part of the outreach program, and I know the sales have dropped over the years and I understand how tough particularly the last couple of years has been, but, you know, we’ve gotten ‑‑

MR. WOOD:  Well, you know, we talked about it.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ smarter, I think, about using these images also ‑‑

MR. WOOD:  When we went to an automated licensing program, that really, you know ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Changed ‑‑

MR. WOOD:  ‑‑ wasn’t the death knell but we’re sort of on life support now but, you know, we still continue ‑‑ last year we paid the department $40,000 and, you know, while that is, you know, in the total scheme of things, that’s not too impressive but it is $40,000, you know and we love doing it and it’s always fun to get to work with Frances and Carter and the Department, you know.

And it’s something we’re very proud of.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Good.  Carter’s excited about that catfish.

MR. SMITH:  Oh, my wife is.

MR. WOOD:  I imagine Carter’s excited about that $40,000.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Well, this next legislative session, any amount will do.

MR. WOOD:  Exactly.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Is there any discussion by the Commission?  Any questions?

Thank you very much for your presentation.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN:  Thank you, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  The skinny on the skimmer.  Who ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Who did the nautical ‑‑

MR. WOOD:  The nautical is Al Barnes.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  That’s Al Barnes.  Yes.  I like him.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  If there are no further questions or discussion, I will place this item on the Thursday commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Committee Item Number 3, Legislative Preview and Update.  Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that and that’s probably a pretty good segue into it.  I think, as all of you are aware, you know, we formally submitted our Legislative Appropriations Request at the end of August.  Also, we had our first budget hearing with members from the Legislative Budget Board, Senate Finance, House Appropriations, the Governor’s Office and Lieutenant Governor’s Office.  We talked about our Legislative Appropriations Request.  We talked about our exceptional items and we also talked about the proposed 10 percent reduction schedule and the prioritized items that we had put forward as part of that submittal.

I think it was a very good presentation.  We got a lot of strong feedback from that.  We continue to entertain lots of questions from the Legislative Budget Board who were, obviously, busily working on preparing a proposed state budget and so Gene and his team are very, very busy responding to questions about various and sundry departmental activities and programs, as they are really looking in it.  I would say, probably ‑‑ certainly since I’ve been here and Gene and others have said, it’s been a long time since everybody’s budget was under this much scrutiny and examination so I think that just speaks to, obviously, the issues that the state faces.

Also, you know, we need to be thinking about other issues that will likely be confronting the agency during the course of the session and so I thought I’d run down a couple of kind of prioritized items that are likely to come up for the agency and also other issues that I think will come up sort of organically and are of interest to various and sundry members, that you should probably be aware of.

Certainly a big issue for us that is looming on the horizon is the expiration of the freshwater fishing stamp.  That’s the $5 stamp.  That generates roughly $6-1/2 million dollars a year that is exclusively dedicated for the repair and renovation and construction of fish hatcheries.

This is an absolutely essential funding stream for us to take care of our hatcheries, which are so critically important to our stock enhancement, work that our fisheries biologists are involved in in lakes and reservoirs around the state.

We have got ‑‑ I think, as you all know ‑‑ five inland fish hatcheries.  A number of those were built back in the ’30s and so you can imagine the challenges of kind of keeping up with that infrastructure, whether it’s pipes or pond liners or facilities, that infrastructure is a challenge for us and anglers have been very, very supportive of this stamp and when it was passed, it was put in place for a ten-year period and slated to sunset on September 1st, 2014.

There’s been a lot of recent discussion among angler partners and constituents about the specter of extending that stamp.  I think a lot of them would be very interested in seeing the cap taken off that stamp and having it be in place just like our saltwater stamp or the upland game bird or migratory game bird stamp because, again, this is an essential investment by our anglers into the quality of the fisheries in the state, so an important issue for the state.

On the coastal side, we’ve talked a lot about the damage to the state’s oyster reefs that came about as a function of Hurricane Ike.  As you will recall, you know, we lost nearly 8,000 acres of consolidated oyster reefs as a function of that storm and that huge deposition of silt on top of those.

Our fisheries team ‑‑ coastal fisheries team has been working very busily with oyster fishermen on trying to dredge off some of that silt and to create new cultch material in the bays where we could get spat attached to that and start regrowing those reefs.

It’s a very expensive process to get those established.  Very, very expensive and so one of the things that, certainly, we’ve been acutely aware of, is when oystermen are harvesting oysters from the bay and after they take the oyster, what happens to the shell?  You know, that’s very valuable material that could go back into the bay and serve as substrate for us to rebuild those oyster stocks.

You know, they are sold off; they go to landfills; they go out of state.  We’ve had the statutory ability to get a program in place to replenish the bays with ‑‑ that ‑‑ those oyster shells.  There needs to be a funding string to help pay for that but I think it’s very much in the best interest of our bays and estuaries, our oyster fishermen, our fisheries and anybody who really cares about the health and vitality of the bays, to figure out a much more cost-effective way to replenish those stocks.

So keen issue of interest to a lot of conservation organizations such as CCA and a lot of discussion going on with oystermen and others with that right now.

On the administrative side, something I’ll highlight:  obviously you all are aware of the parks that we operate and, also kind of the unique gift stores or concessions that we operate as part of those state parks.  So somebody goes out to McKinney Falls or Bastrop or Pedernales Falls, you know, they oftentimes want some kind of memento from that park to take home with them and so they want something that’s special, that’s unique, that’s reflective of that experience.

Our state purchasing requirements can be a bit of a challenge when we’re trying to work with local vendors who produce things on a very, very small level that’s unique to that site.  State purchasing requirements, with the appropriate competitive bidding also come with a lot of bulk purchasing and other requirements that are really more designed for kind of an agency-level purchasing or state-level purchasing in bulk and that, oftentimes, precludes us from being able to work with local vendors to help realize things that we could then sell in our gift stores that I think would be of great value to our customers.  So something that we’re very interested in looking at and maybe getting some flexibility there.       We’ve talked about just how invaluable our volunteers are to the management of our state parks.  I think the last estimate I saw that ‑‑ on an average basis, you know, we get roughly 250 to 300 FTEs a year, in terms of the volunteer hours that are given back to our state parks.  That’s free labor.  These folks are there because they have an extraordinary volunteer ethic but we rely on them to do a lot of duties and, you know, some of those is needing to drive department vehicles.

And the way the state’s liability laws work is that if you’re a volunteer, Chairman Holt, in a state park and you want to drive or we would like for you to drive a state vehicle, you’re going to have to be covered by your own personal insurance.  The state liability insurance doesn’t cover you as a volunteer and that’s something that we’re interested in talking about and exploring with the legislature to see if we can get more protection for volunteers.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Can I stop you?  On some of these things that we’ve talked about like the last two ‑‑

MR. SMITH:  Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  I mean, is this something that you say you’ve already brought up with?  Go ahead.

MR. SMITH:  These are issues that we have talked a lot about internally ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Internally.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ and prioritized ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ and the kind of issues that we wanted to report back to you that we think are important.  We asked all of the divisions to really go through a thoughtful process and identify their highest priorities for the session so Harold and his team led that process, brought back a suite of ideas.  Law Enforcement is particularly good with coming up with proposals but so are of the other divisions in terms of helping us kind of think through things that would benefit the work of the agency.

We kind of winnowed those down to a dozen that we think are high priorities and I just wanted ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ to kind of touch on a few of those, so ‑‑ but ones that we think are really important to our business and we’ve got representations from all divisions.  But, that’s kind of the genesis of that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.  And so the thought-process as you would think about this was going into this legislature, which is obviously going to be focused on one thing, primarily, deficit, and ‑‑

MR. SMITH:  Redistricting.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ and again, of course, redistricting, and so you feel these are the kind of things we can get legislators and their staffs to listen to?

MR. SMITH:  Yes.  We absolutely went into that with a filter ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay, okay.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ about that and what are the really important, critical things for the mission ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ and things that were reasonable.  So, you know, there are other issues that we think and we certainly heard are likely to come up in the session that can and will affect the agency that I think, you know, the Commission should be mindful of.  You know, certainly we have heard, you know, that some legislators are interested in revisiting the whole concept of allowing snake hunters to collect snakes and other reptiles off the state’s roadways.  And certainly that’s an issue that we’ve been intimately involved in in the past.

A lot of public safety issues that our team is appropriately concerned about and, certainly, some real questions about how and where and when we want our wardens to spend their time in the wee hours of the night when most of the snake collectors are out looking at rock collectors and such.  But, an important issue to some constituents and to some legislators, we expect to see that come up.

You know, right now, I think you all are aware of the fact that with an aerial depredation permit that’s issued by the agency, landowners can hunt hogs or shoot hogs from a helicopter.  They can’t charge for that, for sport hunting.

We all know the issues with feral hogs in the state and just how damaging they are.  There was a bill last session that proposed to allow for sport hunting of feral hogs from helicopters in which individuals could pay for the privilege to do that.  That bill was not passed but I think there’s certainly a good chance that that could come up again in this session and will raise some important questions about how we want to pursue that.

We regularly get a lot of entreaties from different stakeholder groups that are interested in being granted free hunting and fishing licenses and, certainly, demographics that are arguing for the merit of them receiving free licenses, compared to other citizens in the state and so I suspect what we’ll see certainly discussions on that front.

And then, certainly last but not least, there has been a lot of work over the summer and this fall on an advisory panel that was charted to look at boating safety recommendations and what else can be done to improve boater safety on Texas waters.  You know, our game wardens are responsible for the state’s waters and enforcing and handling water safety throughout the state and so the team has been very, very involved in those discussions and what else could be done.

There’s a representative panel of various interest groups involved in that, a lot of discussion.  We expect some recommendations to come out of that and I expect there’ll be a lot of discussion on that.

So that’s a little bit of a flavor of things that we expect to see over the course of the session.  There’s a lot of other things there.  I don’t want to take up your time with too much of discussion but just kind of wanted to give you some semblance of the flavor there.  So I’ll be happy to take any questions anybody might have.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  The last time someone reported that we presented our natural agenda ‑‑

MR. SMITH:  That’s correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  What was the reaction from them to that ‑‑ to our presentation and to our natural agenda?

MR. SMITH:  Well, it’s ‑‑ and Gene, you want to come up and ‑‑ really, I’m not sure that there was a real formal response to that.  Certainly, it’s been reviewed by the budget writers and looking at that in the context of, you know, preparing a starting place for the state budget.  There hasn’t been any kind of hearings on that.  Say, more kind of the informal, day-to-day, routine communication that happens, you know, with Gene and Mike Jensen’s team that have questions that come out about that.

So Gene, do you want to elaborate on that?  Is there anything else there?

MR. McCARTY:  Gene McCarty, Deputy Executive Director for Administration.  We really did not present it, per se, we submitted it as required in the appropriate time.  We’ve gotten a number of, I guess, comments and/or questions from the LBB about some of the issues and they’re principally some of our challenges ‑‑ identified challenges.

We try to make natural agenda tie very closely to what our LAR is going to suggest, in terms of exceptional item requests so we try to identify what our challenges are and then come back with a funding request in the LAR and so we’ve gotten some questions as to how those two ‑‑ how the issues that we identified tied to the exceptional item requests, but that’s about it.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Okay.  Second question is, at one point we had discussion about trying to facilitate credit cards ‑‑ use of credit cards to purchase licenses and I’ve forgotten what else too.  I think you said in the past that we were precluded by law.  We needed approval from the Comptroller’s office to use credit cards?

MR. McCARTY:  That is correct.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Is there a chance of that ‑‑ among these items that ‑‑ the issues that you’re talking about, if we could try to get approval to use ‑‑ that our constituents can use credit cards to facilitate whatever we want to sell or are selling?

MR. McCARTY:  We brought that issue up at last session and it has a fairly significant fiscal note to it, in terms of the cost to the state and, really, it’s a cost to GR and so it didn’t go anywhere last session.  We still have it in our pocket this session.  If there’s an opportunity, we will try to get it in there but it is going to have a fiscal note on it and the word we’re being told is, if you bring anything up here that has a fiscal note on it, it’s DOA.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  But does it have a fiscal note if you make the purchaser pay the processing fee so that there is no impact on fee dollars.

MR. McCARTY:  That does not create a fiscal note.  That does not create a fiscal note.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  I sure hope we’ll try to explore that.  I just think it’s a way to make us more user-friendly and as long as long as we require the credit card user to pick up any processing charge ‑‑

MR. McCARTY:  Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that.

MR. SMITH:  Are you talking about a convenience fee that ‑‑

MR. McCARTY:  Right.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ would be part of the process?

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Yes.

MR. SMITH:  ‑‑ and part of the fee that somebody knows, going in, that it’s going to be this amount and if they want to use that for convenience, that that’s just the cost of doing business.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  You try to buy guns from certain people over the internet, the gun brokers, they all say 3 percent charge for credit cards as opposed to paying by check but at least it enables somebody who wants to make a purchase right then ‑‑

MR. McCARTY:  Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ to make it.  It seems quicker to people, that’s what people do best.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Ask you a quick ‑‑ are there any other agencies that would have a need?  I mean, is that part of the problem that there’s just not many other agencies that the use of a credit card would help ‑‑

MR. McCARTY:  Well, it’s ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ keeps the momentum or any other to help pay for ‑‑

MR. McCARTY:  Well, it’s the difference between GR and dedicated funds so there are some ‑‑ I think there are other agencies that could use it but, you know, they’re already working out of GR, as opposed to ‑‑ with us it is a deduction from GR to reimburse us for our costs.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  So it ends up being a net loser.

MR. McCARTY:  Right.  That’s the way that the Comptroller looks at it.  It’s a loss to general revenue.

Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Yes, sir.  Mr. Smith, or David, did you have a question?  No, I’m sorry.

Okay.  I just wanted to maybe hear your comments on the expectations of our Law Enforcement Division along the border now with the fact that we were catapulted into the national news here for the last several weeks and anything that we can do differently, legislatively ‑‑ pre-empt anything before the session starts?

MR. SMITH:  Well, I think the thing that it’s important for everyone to remember or a couple of things, Commissioner, I mean, one, you know, our law enforcement team is here for conservation law enforcement purposes.  I mean, they enforce our fish and game laws, our water safety laws, our environmental laws but they’re commissioned peace officers to enforce all laws in the state of Texas and the reality is, our wardens are out there, every single day, and come across violations of the Penal Code and those are not things that they can ignore.

Our wardens are also very, very well equipped to handle the unique challenges that are presented along the border because of the rural naturist part of that, the activities that go on off the pavement, on the water and so there’s been a real dose of confidence and trust invested in our game wardens to play a critical role of having more law enforcement agents strategically stationed along the border who are there, you know, ostensively, for ‑‑ to help with the agency’s mission but while doing that, they serve as a force multiplier, they’re working appropriately with their partners in other local and state and federal law enforcement officers, and as we have confronted the challenges that are plaguing places like Falcon Lake, there is no doubt that our game wardens are front and center in addressing these very real public safety issues that have emerged and the good news is that our team has very much risen to the occasion and so there’s a lot of confidence in them and that’s very positive.

And so, you know, we’re seeing appropriate investments being made to help facilitate that and so ‑‑ and I think we will continue to see that grow where those opportunities present itself.  You know, in our Legislative Appropriations Request, we have asked for, for instance, MV vehicle automation, MV vehicle computer systems for our game wardens and some of our park peace officers.  They’re patrolling in very remote areas of the state, this gives them the ability not only for us to know exactly where they are but also to do real time queries on suspects and individuals if they are coming into contact.  I mean, it is absolutely a best standard for law enforcement.

We also have some significant investments in communication infrastructure that we need to support our law enforcement team and the other members of our agency that are scattered out in the hinterlands and simply to comply with new federal communication requirements.  So I think the conversation about the border is absolutely going to be there during the session, Commissioner, and I think our law enforcement team will be in a very, very good position to help play an integral role in part of the state’s overall law enforcement efforts and it’s a real credit to Pete and his team so I feel ‑‑ I feel very, very strongly and good about how positioned the agency is for that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Can I add to that?

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Where are we on the training side of it though?  Okay, we’ve now ‑‑ you know, as you add new cadets and you’ve got a new training program over at Hamilton.  Okay, let’s face it, this is a different aspect to the mission ‑‑ this kind of law enforcement.  So are we then now training cadets ‑‑ an additional type of training?  I don’t know what it would mean or take or whatever, but I mean, what are we doing because that’s been one of my big worries, to the point where I’ve actually discussed it with the governor, is ‑‑ you know, you’re asking us to help and have more of our people’s help along the border and essentially get involved with all these various issues that are happening along the border and we note there are many of them, what are we then doing to train so that we make sure that the people are out there ‑‑ what I’m asking, I guess, have the right training, equipment ‑‑ you talked about equipment, training and other things ‑‑ to do that kind of work?

MR. FLORES:  Yes, sir.  For the record, Colonel Peter Flores, Director of Law Enforcement.  Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, obviously, training ‑‑ but when we look at training as a whole, I was asked this very same question in Senate Finance, a couple of years ago, were our wardens on the border trained more than the wardens in the rest of the state and my answer to that and my answer today is the same in that we train all of our wardens the same, whether they’re in Fort Worth or on the border, to meet the challenges of law enforcement in general today.

The risks are high everywhere and so, appropriately, our training is such that we feel that we have one of the best, most comprehensive training programs in the country.  Our stick begins with a community policing policy, which is very important, which makes law enforcement effective.

I think that’s probably one of the things that makes us most effective, especially in rural Texas and on the border, when compared to other agencies, especially larger ones, where they lose that component and thereby, their effectiveness and their touch with the community.

That trust, that place is all ‑‑ that’s where it starts.  As far as actual policing, again, our academy in the last two classes, they’re examined in their TCLEOSE exam, which is their licensure, was 100 percent passing.  That’s the whole ‑‑ both classes, for example.  That’s extraordinary.

And so the police component, as far as the basic policing, we believe we’re covering very well but we can always improve.  Our training, as far as officer safety, is ‑‑ and safety as a whole but especially our officer safety component, our professional policing is ‑‑ our munitions training is done by all officers.  That puts you in a real scenario of what they may face in the field.  There’s nothing that ‑‑ they absolutely don’t know what’s going to happen, but they use the training and the equipment that they have to be able to respond appropriately to come out of a gunfight intact.

Our equipment, I believe your game wardens are some of the best equipped game wardens in the country and we’ve done that working very proactively, through various avenues of ‑‑ financial avenues that were always out there but that we’ve tapped into to be able to provide good equipment on our vehicles, radios on their person, ballistic vests that are the latest ballistic vests, including Level IIIA and IV on the border, which take two-23 rounds.  Hopefully, we’ll get those for all over the state but the border in particular, those wardens who have ballistic vests that are IIIA or Level IV, which ‑‑ and as well as required wear of ballistic armor.

I mean, you know, the days when you could assume nothing would happen, those ‑‑ they were always here; things will happen.  You can’t predict when an incident’s going to occur.

Their weapon training ‑‑ they have M4 rifle.  Our patrolmen carry automatic rifles, with a EOTech sight, which is a hologram sight.  It’s there, and then the training in that is very intensive, very comprehensive.  Their Glocks are continually upgraded.  We carry Glock pistols.  Their training in that ‑‑ we qualify more than what’s required by the minimum ‑‑ by TCLEOSE.  Training is ongoing on tactics.  In the academy and, in fact, through in-service training, you’ve got to ‑‑ just because you graduated, doesn’t mean that education stops there.

We have continual in-service training, which is an integral part of our academy.  It is not only to train cadets but to continue to train our wardens in the field in the latest tactics.

We have a force continuum training, which the wardens went through last year, updates in search and seizure.  Pretty much as comprehensive ‑‑ patrol tactics of this year’s ‑‑ for example, this year’s emphasis for our statewide in-service will be marine and marine tactics.  They’re for every game warden.  And those are ‑‑ that every game warden will go through it.

That provides a uniform, comprehensive program.  Because, we’re so mobile, we go everywhere.  We do anything.  Just because you’re assigned on the border, doesn’t mean ‑‑ if you live in Houston, you might not do a ‑‑ go work on the border but it can happen anywhere so comprehensively, our force is well equipped, well rounded.

The boats we’ve acquired are some of the best boats of their kind in the world and they require ‑‑ they require intensive training and they’re very specific.  The electronics on them are of the very world-class best.  You can see underwater, you can see in the dark.  They’re very tactical in their nature.  We have a large fleet of those vessels now that we didn’t have just a few years ago, for example.  And that training that goes along with them.

But what’s more important is also having our wardens be doing our jobs, doing what we’re supposed to be, where we’re supposed to be but to be able to communicate with our partners in the state and federal level and the local level, that communication, that integration, is a big component of officer safety.

Certainly, as we move into the future, with the in-car computer system that provides you with real-time data, real-time intelligence sharing, we have a place at the Fusion Center here in Austin which gives us immediate information to a very vast database.  Anything that we find, we report.  Anything any other agency finds, they report.  And we’re able to access that, which contributes to our effectiveness and officer safety.

So I can go on and on on a number of things that we’re doing on this very issue but certainly, we can always improve.  I believe that with this in-car computer, we need to have it.  Our radio communication system has to be integrated and that’s a larger issue on a state scale of interoperability that will go into the billions of dollars.  But, for us, certainly our radio towers are an important part of that.  Individual trackers.  Tracking ‑‑ being able to track our wardens real-time where our dispatchers can look on a screen and see where they’re at, 24/7 certainly is part of that component.

But, they’re working with George Rios in IT.  There’s always Plan A and there’s always Plan B and there’ll always be Plan C but the end result will be providing a comprehensive program that provides the very best conservation law enforcement officers in the country.  That’s what we want to do. 

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Good.

MR. FLORES:  I hope I answered your question.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Yes, you did, and I appreciate it because it’s been obviously worrisome, to the point ‑‑ as I said, we’ve talked about it, off and on, for the last two years, with the leadership downtown, relative to being asked to do these things and I understand that you train all your wardens the same, whether they’re in Houston or whether they’re on Falcon Lake but ‑‑ it’s because of how we move around but the issue is, we are being asked to do more of certain types of missions that we weren’t in the past, and so I just want to make sure that we ‑‑ that you feel and your leadership feels that we’re keeping up with that because, at the end of the day, then, if all we’re doing is ‑‑ I mean, obviously, something like what happened ‑‑ like happened in Falcon Lake a few weeks ago, doesn’t normally happen, you know, on Lake Sam Rayburn.  Okay?  It’s just not going to be.  And so you’ve got ‑‑ it’s ‑‑ I guess what I’m saying, a mixed mission, in a sense.  You know, if you just take those two lakes and compare them.  And you go to the situation of being on the border.

MR. FLORES:  In fact, Mr. Chairman, we deal with a number of issues all throughout the state.  We deal with left-wing ‑‑ left- and right-wing groups, I mean, from the Piney Woods ‑‑ the Aryan Brotherhood is very active in East Texas.  We run into them regularly, not only in the state parks but also in the national forests.  It may not be elevated to the degree of the border but certainly running into criminal elements, organized gangs, narcotics, methamphetamine ‑‑ these are things that, while doing our job, we’re running into that are very well funded, equally ruthless and we ‑‑ that which requires us to be trained.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  That’s a good point.

MR. FLORES:  And they do exist.  We do run into murderers; we do run into kidnappings; we do run into huge meth labs while out doing our job ‑‑ we were going through a hunting lease just last week, a big meth lab in the Grimes/Walker County line, a very, very huge one.  You know, we run into a pot-growing operations on the White Oak Creek Wildlife Management Area, just a few years ago.  These are things that happen in the interior of Texas but certainly ‑‑ but the difference is, that we still have the rule of law here in Texas and the United States and there is no rule of law on the Mexican side and it’s just a reminder that all of us working together under the Texas program, each of us doing our specific function, whether it’s you’re a highway patrolman checking for drivers licenses on the highway or a game warden checking for fishing licenses on the river, we all have our particular role.

But, what’s important is that we work together to keep the rule of law in Texas and to keep ‑‑ to make sure that we don’t have the chaos of Mexico.

COMMISSIONER MARTIN:  I’d like to make a comment, while you’re there, Colonel.  I want to thank you, really, and compliment you and your whole team, as you were unexpectedly plummeted into the national news with what happened in Lake Falcon.  I think that it was handled with tremendous integrity and respect and grace and everybody on the team just really came forward and rose to their occasion and the notoriety, as I travel around this state, it has created much more notoriety of what the wardens are doing and created more awareness for our people in the interior, now realizing that the face of the game warden has changed through now our Homeland Security issues and through our border security issues and compliments to you and your whole law enforcement team for standing up and taking the call and doing it with the highest of integrity and still ‑‑ and going forward and I think it is important that at all times we are here to support the safety and the training of the whole law enforcement.

So on a personal level, on my part, anything that I can do to help you guys, I really appreciate it brought, like I said, national news to you all and everything, in a very complimenting way and so I just want to thank you on my part.

MR. FLORES:  Thank you, Commissioner.  Certainly, the credit goes to our folks on the ground, the ones who are out there every day doing the job diligently and believing in our mission of conservation and public safety.  Captain Cervantes there in Zapata has done an exemplary job of representing this agency.  We hope that you are pleased with the professionalism that he displayed and their equipment in your game wardens operating, not being there but everywhere in Texas and, hopefully, that is the expectation we have of them and I hope that we can continue to deliver that while doing our job and keeping Texas safe at the same time.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Thank you, Colonel Flores.  Yes, yes.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  This may be later on the agenda, are we going to get a report on the threats ‑‑ a follow-up report on the threats that were made against wardens and park police officers that was discussed at the last meeting.

MR. SMITH:  I think, you know, Grahame Jones, is going to provide an update next on internal affairs case report and so I think Grahame would be well-positioned to answer any questions you have about that.  So ‑‑

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Thank you.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Thank you, Colonel.  The incident at Falcon Lake has really opened the doors for a lot of discussion on a lot of these things but we certainly appreciate Colonel Flores’ leadership in making safety a priority for our game wardens and also appreciate the fact that a lot of our state leadership has been down there to first-hand look at the situation.  A lot of times, when you see things from the news, it’s not quite the way it is.  I know that there are no cruise ships on the lake.  I know every time one of the networks talk about that there was a big cruise ship in the back and I don’t think it’s there, so it is important to ‑‑ what you’ve been doing has been real important and we appreciate it.

Any other questions or comments?  Committee Item Number 4, Internal Affairs Case Update.  Major Jones.

MR. JONES:  Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Smith.  We’re not going to conduct an investigation into the catfish print today but we are going to give you a brief synopsis as per House Bill 3391, which was our Sunset legislation, as this is required by recent Sunset legislation.

Basically, our staff ‑‑ it’s myself and two captains, Joe Carter and Captain Chris Davis and one administrative technician, Patty Vela.  We have a multi-faceted role in internal affairs.  Obviously, we investigate criminal and some administrative allegations.  We manage the department complaint system.  We also look into threat assessments and risk analysis that goes hand in hand with our executive protection team.  Off-site, the gatherings at state parks, et cetera and then we also train and educate ‑‑ we travel around the state.

We go to regional meetings for law enforcement in state parks, other divisions.  And we also teach at the Game Warden Academy and to the new park peace officers, as well.

As far as FY 2010 case breakdown, we had a total of 121 cases; 25 were criminal and 96 were non-criminal.  I’m going to break that down to you by division.  We had Communications ‑‑ we had one case and these were our criminal cases.  These are our formal cases.

Our infrastructure division, we had two.  Our law enforcement, we had 12.  And state parks, we had nine.  We had one other.  The other was actually a license vendor.  It’s very common for law enforcement of state parks, because those people have the most interaction with the public.  Obviously, we’re going to have the largest number of cases in those divisions.

A three-year summary, as far as our case summary, when you look at this, our average caseload is primarily the same.  We did have a spike in 2009 on our criminal cases but if you look at our long-term stats, we’ve had spikes before.  Actually, I think in 2009, we had 50 criminal cases.  2010, we had half of that; we had 25.  But the total number of informal cases was 104, 103 in ’96, respectively for 2010, which is pretty much on par with our running average on cases.

So although it looks like we had a spike for criminal cases in 2009, we have had that many before.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  What’s an example of a non-criminal?

MR. JONES:  A non-criminal case ‑‑ they’re referrals, basically, Chairman.  Someone would call up and say that a game warden contact ‑‑ the game warden was rude or a park peace officer was rude.  We’re going to refer that back to the division.  Sometimes we’ll look a little bit deeper if we ‑‑ if we identify a trend, we’ll look a little bit deeper than that.

I’d be happy to answer any questions.  I think you had a question, Commissioner, on threats.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Well, the August meeting ‑‑ I forgot who it was in detail, maybe you had mentioned that we had several wardens, I think, in the Falcon ‑‑ Lake Falcon area ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ that you’ve been threatened and some park peace officers [indiscernible] to the extent it should be discussed, that we stay on top of that and make sure our folks are being taken care of.

MR. JONES:  Absolutely.  Yes, sir.  One example ‑‑ the most recent example that involved a game warden.  The game warden received a telephone call that could be construed as a threat.  Within one day we had traced that call, with assistance from the Fusion Center.  We found out who made the call and we made an arrest within 36 hours and that’s something that we take extremely seriously.  We are on top of that.  We work hand in hand with law enforcement and park peace officers, as well, so that’s something that we do take very seriously.  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  But is that ‑‑ was this an isolated incident or does this happen ‑‑

MR. JONES:  That particular case was isolated, Yes sir, but, you know, we’ll run into ‑‑ I would say, an average of three to five threats against our officers every year.  It’s mainly due to retaliation.  After someone makes an arrest, someone will try to retaliate against that officer or make some threats towards that officer.  We’ll investigate that and take appropriate action.  But, we don’t have a large number of those.  No, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  We are ‑‑ when there is a retaliatory threat, we’re referring that to the district ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Absolutely, yes, sir, we file formal criminal charges on ‑‑ if we can, we’re going to file formal criminal charges.  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  That’s nice to know.

MR. SMITH:  Commissioner, my experience with that is, if there is a threat made, you know, Grahame and his team drop everything they are doing and work on that ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

MR. SMITH:  So the issue about making sure that our colleagues are appropriately protected, irrespective of what division they’re in, is really their highest priority.  So they do an extraordinary job on that front.

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Great.

MR. JONES:  Any other questions?

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Thank you, Grahame.  Chairman Holt, I’d like to discuss the oversight of internal affairs, just briefly and maybe  ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Sure.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  ‑‑ internal affairs reports to the Finance Committee but this is the kind of report that we’ve been doing and I think Ralph’s question is important in the sense that we may want an opportunity to get a little bit more information and I realize that because of the sensitivity of some of the cases, they would need to be done in closed session but I’m just wondering if we should at least consider having a sub-committee or somebody that can get a little bit more information than just a summary of cases, for the sake of saying that we are providing adequate oversight to internal affairs.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  What did come out of Sunset?  I’m trying to think ‑‑

(Simultaneous discussion.)

MR. JONES:  Well, the primary change was it gave it statutory authority over original jurisdiction with criminal cases.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Right.

MR. JONES:  Also we report directly to the Commission and to the Executive Director and that I have to get permission or approval to proceed with the case from either the Commission or the Executive Director.  Those are the primary changes.  And Mr. Smith and I do discuss cases.  When we take the case on, I seek that approval and we move forward.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  All right.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  I think in answer to your question, the change was they had to report directly to the Commission and I think history has shown we’ve gotten adequate information on significant matters.  I’d just like [indiscernible] just for the record, we haven’t just been giving lip service to this requirement.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  I think Dr. Falcon is just worried about, you know, as things continue growing, a sub-committee or an individual commissioner maybe to kind of be alongside the ‑‑ walk me through what ‑‑

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  I think that maybe if there was an opportunity, for example ‑‑ Gene and I and some of the members of the department that participate in finances will meet before the meeting, and if any of the commissioners might be interested in a particular aspect of something that’s going to be reported, to have that opportunity, given at that level so that, if there’s a specific case about a game warden that had a complaint against them, that it could be described with more detail.  I’m just wondering if we should [indiscernible] before the commission that opportunity that they could get a little bit more information, if they needed to have some ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Sure.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  ‑‑ that was more structured, other than informal, I guess we can always call Grahame and ask him.

MR. JONES:  Yes, we’d be happy to do that.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Absolutely.  But you’re talking about, yes, more structure.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Just a thought.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  The last time I thought about it.  Yes, cause informally, and certainly any Commissioner has the right to talk to Grahame directly ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  ‑‑ any time about anything.

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Doesn’t have to go through the Executive Director or anything.  I mean, that’s part of this whole Sunset setup so certainly, everybody feel free to do that but I understand what you’re saying, should we do something on a more formal basis, and I think ‑‑ we can see how you’d coordinate that and figure it out.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Commissioner?

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Sure.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  I’ve got just a question for my clarification.  These 25 criminal cases, now, are these criminal cases that you’ve now referred for further ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.  What we do is we will refer cases to the District Attorney, if it meets the threshold.  You know, if there’s evidence of a crime, we’re going to refer that to the appropriate prosecutorial jurisdiction and then what we do is, the D.A. will either accept charges or will issue a letter of declination of the prosecution.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  So that’s 121 cold cases that were referred to ‑‑

MR. JONES:  You’re talking ‑‑

COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  ‑‑ out of how many ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, we had a 121 total cases.  The criminal cases were just ‑‑ we had 25 criminal cases.  Of those criminal cases, we actually referred seven to the appropriate D.A.’s office, that met the threshold of  ‑‑

COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  Out of the 25.

MR. JONES:  Out of the 25.  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN:  All right.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  Is that an impediment to your performance to have to report any or all these investigations to Carter or to the Commission?

MR. JONES:  No, sir.  No, sir.  It’s ‑‑ not at all.  We do have a computerized program now and the data is relatively easy to mine.  We track the cases on a web-base program but it’s fine and you guys have been very supportive.  I appreciate the support.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  If you have to move quickly on a particular issue, I would hate to have to have you not be able to move in the way that you needed to because you were unable to get approval ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir, and I appreciate that and Mr. Smith and I have ‑‑ when something breaks down, it’s very serious or we have a serious allegation.  An example would be a threat against an officer.  I’ve never had a situation where I could not get a hold of Mr. Smith and, if I couldn’t get a hold of Mr. Smith, I would call the Chairman or a Commissioner to proceed.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  I just want to make sure ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS:  ‑‑ we do what we need to do.

MR. JONES:  Absolutely.  Thank you.

MR. SMITH:  Yes and I think that’s a great point because, you know, I never want my schedule to be an impediment to somehow to Grahame and his team being able to proceed on an investigation.  Grahame’s got all my numbers.  We talk ‑‑

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  We’re going to build an apartment back there.

MR. SMITH:  Right.  Every hour in a 24-hour period, at some point.  So it’s ‑‑ I take that responsibility very seriously.

MR. JONES:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  One other question ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  Have you had any what you felt like was pushback from any of the prosecutorial folks when you presented a case that you thought ought to be prosecuted?

MR. JONES:  No, sir.  I have not seen that.  We ‑‑ in fact, we’ve received several letters of declination recently and the prosecutors were complimentary of the work that Captain Carter and Captain Davis did.  I have not experienced that.  Now, locally here, we will deal with the Travis County Public Integrity Unit, which has their prosecutor in-house and we have a good relationship with them so we haven’t had ‑‑ we haven’t had any pushback.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  But in those cases where the prosecutor declined ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DUGGINS:  ‑‑ to take the case, what was the difference between ‑‑

MR. JONES:  Well, it’s not that we’re selling the case to the prosecutor.  What we’ll do is, we’ll compile our case report and we’ll send it to the prosecutor and what we’ll do is, we have a matrix that we look at and if it ‑‑ basically, if the crime could have occurred or if the allegation could have occurred, we’re not saying it did or it didn’t, we’re going to send it to the prosecutor for independent review.  Now, that’s going to include our findings and our findings would be that the game warden or the park peace officer, whoever it is, was not found to have violated policy or was not found to have violated the law, in the criminal example.  So we’re going to put our findings in there that we believe that the game warden was truthful and here’s the evidence and here’s the statements, et cetera and the prosecutor will review that but we let him know that it’s independent review and if he has any questions, he can follow up with us.

We’ll ‑‑ oftentimes we’ve discussed the case with their investigators, as well.  So we’re not selling the case to them.  We’re just presenting the case to them and letting them make their own decision.  And we did have an indictment this year, as well, on a case so ‑‑ and we’ve had indictments in the past.  I guess the short version would be that, for the most part, our officers are exemplary and, you know, although occasionally we do get an indictment, for the most part, the allegations are unfounded.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Thank you, Major Jones.

MR. JONES:  Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER FALCON:  Chairman Holt, this Committee has completed its business.

COMMISSIONER HOLT:  Okay.

(Whereupon, at 10:10 a.m., the Finance Committee meeting was adjourned.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF:    Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, Finance Committee

LOCATION:      Austin, Texas

DATE:          November 3, 2010

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 50, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

11/17/10
(Transcriber)         (Date)

On the Record Reporting, Inc.
3307 Northland, Suite 315
Austin, Texas 78731


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