Monday, August 4, 2014

Controversial Arizona sheriff to speak at Texas Tea Party fundraiser at Baptist church near Dallas



Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joseph M. "Joe" Arpaio will speak to the Kaufman County Tea Party during a fundraiser at the First Baptist Church of Forney Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.

Six-time elected Sheriff Arpaio gained national attention in 2005 for speaking out in favor of strong enforcement of U.S. immigration laws. He was an advocate of Arizona's anti-immigrant law that the U.S. Supreme Court later struck down in large part.

Arpaio, who is of Italian heritage, is most infamously known for dyeing boxer shorts pink and forcing county jail inmates to wear them.

The 84-year-old sheriff has used the pink underwear to gain media coverage, raise money through the sale of pink underwear and to promote his book, "America's Toughest Sheriff." He has been quoted as saying, "I can get elected on pink underwear. I've done it six times."

An Internet search failed to produce any anti-LGBT rights remarks made by Arpaio. When fellow Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu was outed as gay during a political campaign in 2012, Arpaio said he wouldn't be advising the gay sheriff. But he stopped short of criticizing Babeu, saying only he would need to "work out his problems."

The announcement of Arpaio's appearance on the Kaufman County Tea Party's website and members' Facebook pages coincides with the political party successfully lobbying the Kaufman County Commissioners Court to pass a resolution opposing any efforts to house young refugees from Central America in the county.

Local Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers claimed the refugees are mostly adults rather than children, and that the approach of 300,000 illegal immigrants to the U.S. border represents an unprecendented public health and economic threat.

Supporters of housing refugee children allege that Myers and other conservatives are using fear tactics to attract opposition to immigrants.

Arpaio is self-proclaimed as "America's Toughest Sheriff," and he attracts widespread national media attention.

Arpaio was found guilty of racial profiling in federal court, and a monitor was appointed to oversee the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office operation. His jails have twice been ruled unconstitutional.

Critics have accused Arpaio of abuse of power, misues of funds, failure to investigate sex crimes, improper cleanrance of cases, unlawful enforcement of immigration laws and election law violations.

The sheriff is also known for his claims that he investigated President Barack Obama's birth certificate and found it to be forged.

Funds raised by Arpaio's appearance will be used to defeat RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and Democrats, according to the Tea Party's website.

General admission is $15 each. Sponsors who pay $1,0000 for eight tickets, $500 for four tickets, $250 for two tickets or $125 for one ticket will be able to attend a private reception with the sheriff, get their picture taken with him and sit in reserved seating.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Sixth-generation civic leader scolds Texas politicians for harsh stance on immigration


A lone, loud voice reminded a group of public officials in Texas of their roots as they contemplated the arrival of refugee children from Central America in the state.

Conservative Kaufman County Tea Party politicians had successfully lobbied the Kaufman County Commissioners Court recently to pass a resolution opposing the housing of any refugee children from Central America. But that didn't sit well with longtime Kaufman County civic leader Carolyn Long who roundly criticized the court for its action during its third and final deliberation on the matter.

Long, a sixth-generation Kaufman resident,  said she came forward to speak out against the resolution when it appeared on the consent agenda for ratification because she had just learned of it. The court passed the resolution the previous week under the heading of a "public safety" concern that failed to mention immigration.

"I think we are a welcoming county, and we always have been," Long said. "I don't want our county to get a reputation for being extremists."

The court placed the item on the consent agenda for final ratification after Assistant District Attorney John Long advised the court he had concerns about compliance with open records laws.

Long asked the court to table the resolution, and she said that she disagreed with Kaufman County Tea Party Chairman Ray Myers, Texas Sen.-elect Bob Hall and Texas Rep.-elect Stuart Spitzer who testified during two previous court meetings that the mass immigration of children entering the United States across the Mexico border posed a great economic and health threat.

Long branded the language used by the Tea Party officials as "harsh." She reminded the commissioners and Judge Bruce Wood that they all came from immigrant heritage as well.

"I think we ought to have a little compassion about this and cool it down a little bit," said Long, who is well known for her work with the Kaufman Heritage Society, Help Keep Kaufman Beautiful and other civic organizations.

Myers defended his claims about the potential threat of immigrants bringing diseases, crime and economic burdens to U.S. taxpayers as accurate and legitimate. He and the politicians claimed most of the immigrants are young adults, not children.

The Tea Party organizer said several other counties have passed similar resolutions, and the Kaufman County document is based on one drafted in Galveston County he  brought to the court's attention.

In contrast, neighboring Dallas County planned to house 2,000 refugee children, but public officials abruptly cancelled their plans after wide spread protests.

The Kaufman County officials ignored Long's protest and request to table the resolution, passing it unanimously.

Afterwards, Judge Wood said Long was the first person to speak out publically against the resolution. Others have privately expressed concerns about the children to him, but they have supported the county's stance, he said.

"They understand it is a tough problem," Wood said.

Long is pictured speaking at another event.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Transgender woman gets $4,000 in settlement she claims smacks of unfairness




No one takes any blame in the mediated settlement the U.S. Department of Justice arranged recently between an Athens, TX, RV park owner and a transgender woman and her female partner who alleged discrimination.

In the settlement order dated July 9, George Toone, owner of Texan RV Park, continued to deny the discrimination allegations, but he agreed to pay Roxann Joganik and Darlina Anthony $4,000 to settle the case. Both the defendants and the complainants agreed in the settlement they would make no negative or critical comments of the other, and they agreed not to reveal any communications between them after reaching the agreement.

Joganik said that while she could not make any statements about the RV park owner, she criticized the Department of Justice for its handling of the case. Most discrimination cases get larger settlements, she claimed.

“I didn’t get a fair deal because I’m transgender,” Joganik said. “They don’t give a hoot.”

Joganik said she believes the average settlement in a discrimination case taken on by the Department of Justice would be at least three times what she received.

Joganik said she believed the federal employees who assisted her failed to “understand what it means to be transgender,” which led them to seek a quick, easy settlement.

The federal employees appeared to be as prejudiced against her as anyone else, Joganik said.

"I hate the Department of Justice," Joganik said. "I hope I never have to deal with them again."

The Department of Justice's website includes a section devoted to LGBTI individuals. It includes a quote from Asst. Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. "On an issue of basic equality and fundamental fairness for all Americans ... we have come too far in our struggle for equal justice under the law to remain silent or stoic when our LGBT brothers and sisters are still being mistreated and ostracized for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with their skills or abilities and everything to do with myths, stereotypes, fear of the unknown and prejudice."

The media attention the case attracted led to Joganik's current landlord telling her not to allow a reporter to return to the RV park, she said. "It's hard for me to find a place to live," she said.

Joganik is now living in her third RV park since she began her transition from male to female.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a charge of discrimination in August against the Athens RV park owner after investigating a complaint by the transgender woman and her female partner who now live in Seven Points.

The action was believed to be one of the first few investigations by HUD to proceed to the trial stage since the federal agency adopted a new policy in March 2012 banning discrimination against LGBT people.

If the charge of discrimination had been upheld in a federal administrative hearing or a U.S. federal district court the park owner could have been fined $16,000 and been required to reimburse the complainants for damages. The damages could have included moving expenses and compensation for emotional distress.

Joganik and Anthony filed the complaint in the summer of 2012 against George and Amy Toone and In Toone Services, LLC, owners of Texan RV Park on Highway 175 West in Athens. The complainants alleged that the Toones discriminated against them on the basis of sex on May 15, 2012, and again on Aug. 18, 2012.

After the park owner refused to accept a rent payment from them and successfully pursued an eviction in now-deceased Justice of the Peace Henry S. Ashford's court in Henderson County, Joganik offered to move to her son's residence so Anthony could remain, according to the couple. The park owner again refused to accept the rent payment, leading to the dual charge, they said.

The pair amended the complaints in February 2013 to add charges of harassment and intimidation after the Toones, who were represented by Dallas lawyer Casey Erick, allegedly "sought and assisted in the publication of articles on a campground management website," according to the complaint outlined in HUD documents.

The articles allegedly contained "inaccurate and negative information about complainant Joganik for the purpose of harassing and intimidating her" in violation of federal law, according to the allegations in the documents.

The Toones denied the allegations of discrimination, claiming that the complainants' recreational vehicle did not "constitute a dwelling" and should be exempt from the federal housing law. They claimed the owners of the recreational vehicles in the park were not tenants, but instead guests.

The respondents also maintained that Joganik and Anthony were asked to leave the park because Joganik would not sign the park rules, the pair disrupted other guests' use of the park and that Joganik had killed park wildlife. Joganik identified the wildlife as turtles in a pond that were eating the bait off her fish hooks.

Federal officials found "reasonable cause" of "discriminatory housing practices" by the park owner in the case, according to HUD documents in the possession of the complainants. But the officials rejected the complaint against the owner's wife and the allegations of intimidation and harassment.



Joganik and Anthony previously said they were confident they would prevail in the HUD proceedings.

A spokeswoman for Texan RV Park said the owner would have no comment about the case at the time it was filed. Erick, the attorney representing the owner, did not return phone messages left at his office.
  
To contact the LGBTI Working Group or to report acts of violence or discrimination send an email to CRT-LGBTI@usdoj.gov or visit justice.gov/crt/complain


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lucky the Jackshund joins The Rare Reporter


Mickey the Schnauzer seemed a little lonely so I began looking for him a friend.

I've added Lucky to the household whose breed took a while to determine. Born Jan. 17, 2014, Lucky revealed himself to be a cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and a Dachshund.

He is quite the little devil, but he is settling into the household nicely.

Mickey who is seven is playing like a puppy since Lucky's arrival. It was a good decision.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cedar Creek Lake mayor promises end to police surveillance of gay bar

Retiring is such a hard thing to do, especially for an old reporter who knows the story might not be told unless he steps up.

That's where I found myself this week when I heard about what I perceived to be an injustice. I tried to ignore it all, but my conscience would not allow it after I learned law enforcement activity on Cedar Creek Lake seemed to be targeting my community.

This is what I learned about the lake's only LGBT bar being surrounded by police cars at the end of the evening last weekend. 

In the wake of widespread social media conversations and perplexity on the part of local gay leaders, Mayor Paul Eaton promised surveillance of patrons of Gun Barrel City gay bar Garlow's would end immediately.

In an interview after the Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on April 10, Eaton said he met with the owner of the gay bar and the city's police chief that morning and had resolved the problems.

"I hopped on it as soon as I heard about it," Eaton said. "We don't want to be known for that."

On April 5 following a drag show at the gay bar, patrons leaving the bar met as many as five squad cars sitting outside of the bar, Drivers who failed to signal whether they were turning left or right were stopped, according to sources at the scene. Several DUI arrests were made.

One squad car followed the operator of the bar as he attempted to walk home and and handcuffed and jailed him on a charge of public intoxication, allegedly without testing him for intoxication.

A survey of other nightclubs in Gun Barrel City revealed Garlow's was the only bar targeted for the operation.

Employees of the bar said surveillance by Gun Barrel City police cars had been ongoing for weeks.

Eaton said he did not believe the operation could be attributed to "gay bashing," but he condemned the arrest of the bar's operator. "That was ridiculous," he said.

"It was a misunderstanding," Eaton said. "It is the busiest bar around. They were looking for drunks and drugs."

Eaton said the police chief had met with the police officers prior to the meeting with the gay bar's owner. The police chief "had already taken care of the problem," he said.

New police officers have joined the police force recently.

"I regret it happened," Eaton added.

Slingerland said after his arrest on the public intoxication charge that he pleaded no contest and paid the $352 fine. There are no plans to pursue the matter further, he said.

"I didn't want to make it about me," Slingerland said. "It's about the bar and the people. I just wanted it to stop."

City Manager Gerry Boren said the police chief continues to examine the situation in an informal review.

Boren said the number of squad cars reported to be involved at Garlow's does not add up. There are only two cars on duty at a time so the only way there could have been more than two cars at the bar at the same time would be if it happened during a shift change, he said.

To have more than four on the scene would require the presence of county law enforecement officers in cars being present as well, Boren said. The county has two cars in the area, he said.

"It's practically impossible," Boren said.

Boren said he is confident the police chief who has been on the force for 15 years would not condone anti-gay bias, and that there are no prejudiced officer on the force.

"But if that perception is out there, I need to change it," Boren said. "I have challenged the police chief to change it. It's a human factor."

Boren said the police department has received complaints about drunks on the highway, but no complaints about Garlow's specifically.

Gay bars have operated in the Cedar Creek Lake area for at least two decades, and they have not experienced problems with law enforcement. Cedar Creek Lake has a large population of retired LGBT residents and weekenders.

The owner of Garlow's, Michael Slingerland, contributed $1,000 to Eaton's re-election campaign, and there is a campaign sign supporting the mayor outside of the bar.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Rare Reporter takes a hiatus, indefinitely

When I first started writing about LGBT issues in 1982 for the mainstream media, I was one of the few journalists examining the subject. That's changed dramatically over the past three decades.

My coverage of the issues started with the AIDS epidemic, a couple of years before medical scientists identified HIV. Something sinister was taking the lives of gay men in terrifying numbers, and scientists suspected a blood-borne virus to be the culprit.

As the decade progressed I realized I wanted to write about the LGBT rights movement, and I began that with the mainstream media at Texas newspapers including Dallas Times Herald, continued it with a job at a straight alternative publication Dallas Observer, freelanced for national LGBT publications from California to New York, monitored anti-LGBT hate crimes during a stint at  Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, AL, and finally worked full-time for an LGBT publication Dallas Voice.

In 2008 I left the Dallas Voice's staff and moved to Cedar Creek Lake, but I've remained as busy as ever writing about LGBT issues as a freelancer for the Voice and other publications across the nation and for this blog, The Rare Reporter.

I'm proud of my work, and I have no regrets. I like to think I've made a contribution to my community, but it's time to retire from the beat. I want to pursue other interests, and I will never do that if I continue following the ever advancing LGBT rights movement. I never dreamed 30 years ago I would witness such dramatic developments in my lifetime.

I will always report and write about what intrigues me, but it willl no longer be about the LGBT rights movement, anti-gay hate crimes, the HIV epidemic, the LGBT media or any other related issue for my blog or the LGBT media.

I will continue publishing my blog about other subjects that interest me, and I will continue writing for CedarCreekLake.com and The Monitor, a Cedar Creek Lake newspaper owned by Media One. I also plan to continue writing about general issues  for LGBTSR.com because it represents the community to which I now belong.  If an important local LGBT story arises I will report it for the local publications as any responsible journalist should, but my coverage of LGBT issues will no longer be a speciality.

I made this decision at the end of the year with the knowledge that there are many well-qualified journalists covering LGBT issues today and the belief that it is time to leave the coverage to younger minds. It has not escaped my attention that we often think quite differently.

Everything comes to an end at some point, but it's not the end of The Rare Reporter. There will be more stories, but I plan to explore the world a bit more broadly.





Friday, November 22, 2013

Mr. Mickey joins The Rare Reporter



It didn't take even a whole week for The Rare Reporter to acquire a new canine companion after Queenie's death Nov. 11. Mr. Mickey, a 6-year-old schnauzer, arrived Nov. 17.

Happy Tails, a Cedar Creek Lake animal rescue group run by founder Tina Hamilton, delivered him for foster care until an adoption could be arranged. But within a couple of hours, The Rare Reporter decided Mr. Mickey would be remaining permanently.

Mr.Mickey and The Rare Reporter are still getting used to each other, but it looks like everything will be just hunky dory.

Within minutes of Mr. Mickey and The Rare Reporter meeting, the song, "Only Love Can Break a Heart," played on the car radio. The next verse was "only love can mend it again." It was a clear sign that Mr. Mickey should become a member of the household because that song had played on the radio upon the death of another beloved pet's death earlier.

Mr. Mickey left behind a female mate at the house where he formerly lived where the husband and wife got a divorce. They decided to give up the dogs. He was supposed to arrive with her, but the wife decided at the last moment to keep his female mate.

If the wife decides later to give up Mr. Mickey's mate, I will adopt her too.