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Waco Tribune-Herald
119 years serving the Heart of Texas

Sunday, July 24, 2011


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Crack rentals problematic for police

By Kirsten Crow
Tribune-Herald staff writer

Its a scenario familiar to police: residents loaning their cars to drug dealers for a couple of crack rocks. Authorities said theyre just as familiar with scenarios in which the vehicles are not returned and instead are reported stolen by duped owners. Primarily known as crack rentals by Waco police among

other colorful variations, such as rock rentals and rock rides the practice became so common, and so problematic that the department instituted a policy requesting that people reporting their cars as stolen sign a legal document swearing they did not loan out their vehicles in exchange for drugs or anything else. The new documentation has discouraged some from reporting those cars as stolen, reducing the number of false reports to police,

Its mostly a defense or a disguise mechanism . . . I guess its called entrepreneurship.

Judge Ralph Strother, Wacos 19th State District Court authorities said. But at least two police discover the car wasnt stocases of crack rental deals gone len at all, officials said. awry in recent weeks are evidence In one case, a man reported of the danger posed by such ar- that three suspected drug dealers rangements, as well as the waste of departmental resources when See RENTALS, Page 2A

Scanpix Norway Vegard Groett

Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon (right) and Princess Ingrid Alexandra attend a vigil for victims of Fridays attacks outside Oslo Cathedral on Saturday.

Dry weather stings business

A nation mourns
Police charge 32-year-old Christian fundamentalist with bombing, shooting attacks
By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times

OSLO The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a man they identified as a right-wing fundamentalist Christian in connection with a bombing in central Oslo and a shooting attack on a nearby island that killed at least 92 people. As stunned Norwegians grappled with the deadliest attack in the country since World War II and a shocking case of homegrown terrorism, a portrait began to emerge of the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, 32, as a gunloving, highly religious Norwegian obsessed with what he saw as the threat of multiculBreivik turalism and Muslim immigration to the cultural and patriotic values of his country. We are not sure whether he was alone or had help, police official Roger Andresen said at a televised news conference. What we know is that he is right-wing and a Christian fundamentalist. The horror of the attack on a political summer camp on Utoya Island, a remarkably meticulous attack on Norways current and future political elite, also came into focus Saturday as witnesses told their stories. It was an hour of hell that left at least 85 people dead, some as young as 16 years old. As soon as the shooting started, they said, people panicked, running in all See ATTACK, Page 3A

aco-area beekeepers are feeling the heat from the drought, which is affecting production from hives. Jimmy Bartley (above), 84, does bee removals and keeps a few hives at his North Waco home. If bees cant bring in nectar, the queen stops laying and the hive goes down, he said. Bill Winkler (right), 74, has participated in his familys honey business for 58 years, but the drought has made him think about giving it all up. He once had 1,500 hives on his farm near Lake Belton. He now has only 12. See Page 4B for the story.
Staff photos Rod Aydelotte/Duane A. Laverty

Junior wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely by Baylor University for violating team rules.

Skeen hired parents of son-in-law

While not illegal, some county officials question practice
By Michael W. Shapiro
Tribune-Herald staff writer

Deal sought to head off default by US

As time winds down to the Aug. 2 deadline, congressional leaders struggled in urgent, weekendlong talks to avert an unprecedented government default. Republicans sought as much as $4 trillion in deficit Reid cuts in a decade as a condition for raising the nations debt limit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid accused GOP leaders of intransigence, adding he would not accept anything less than a deal that raises the debt limit through 2012. See Page 6A.

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High: 102 Low: 79

In 2005 and 2006, McLennan County Tax Assessor-Collector Buddy Skeen hired the parents of his son-in-law. While Skeen isnt breaking any laws by employing the couple, several county officials questioned his hiring practices. Skeens daughter married in August 2002. About 2 years later, Skeen hired his son-inlaws mother, Diane Ander-

son, and a year later the sonin-laws father, Darrell Anderson, according to payroll status forms obtained from the countys human resources department through a Public Information Act request. The Andersons still work full-time for Skeen, according to the forms. Texas ethics code prohibits the hiring of a childs spouse but not that persons parents. McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis said Skeens hiring deciStaff photo Rod Aydelotte sions nevertheless carry more Buddy Skeen is under investhan a whiff of nepotism. Theres no way I would do tigation by the Texas Rangthat in my office, because it ers because he reportedly failed to pay $1,375 in sales See SKEEN, Page 2A taxes.



SUNDAY, JULY 24, 2011

From Page 1A
does not pass the smell test, Lewis said. District Clerk Karen Matkin said hiring in-laws could also make an office less functional. My theory on hiring is never hire someone you cant fire, Matkin said. Its above board in a legal sense, she said, But it creates situations where it could make people very uncomfortable in the office. Darrell Anderson declined to comment Friday, and a supervisor in the downtown vehicle tax office said a reporter would not be able to speak to Diane Anderson. Skeen did not respond to a message left at his office Friday. Its unclear what procedures Skeen used when he hired the Andersons. Butch Kelly, county personnel director, didnt immediately respond to emailed questions about the process sent Friday.

Theres no way I would do that in my office, because it does not pass the smell test.
McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis of collecting whats called the vehicle inventory tax, or VIT, but tax assessorcollectors have wide latitude in determining what constitutes a valid expense. The county truck Skeen reportedly claimed as a tradein to avoid paying the nearly $1,400 in sales taxes had been purchased with money from the VIT fund.

From Page 1A
chased him and his wife with handguns after a dispute about the keys and the time of the trucks return, police said. The pickup was found later in a parking lot of a club, with a gunshot through the windshield and other damage, according to officials. The truck had been rented to complete a drug transaction in Marlin on the promise the owners would receive cash and groceries, Swanton said. And last week, police issued a warrant for the arrest of a suspect who falsely reported his car stolen several months ago. A man found driving the Chrysler was charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle but protested that the owner of the vehicle loaned it to him in exchange for drugs. The owner later confirmed the account, according to authorities.

Salary boost
Documents obtained by the Tribune-Herald show that in the last five years Skeen has used more than half of the money in the VIT fund to boost the salaries of three employees, one of whom has since left his office. In the last full fiscal year he supplemented the other two employees salaries by $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. The $20,000 sum amounted to nearly a 50 percent salary bump. As details have become public about the investigation, local politicians have criticized Skeen, distanced themselves from him, or both. County Democratic Party chairwoman Karen Petree has called on Skeen to resign. Meanwhile, Republican Party chairman Joe Hinton said Thursday he had no choice but to help Skeen fill out paperwork a month ago to bring him into the GOP. A day later, Hinton took another step back. He argued that while Skeen signed a letter of intent to become a Republican, the switch doesnt take effect until the tax assessor-collector either registers as a Republican candidate or votes in a GOP primary. Hes still, for all practical purposes, a Democrat, Hinton said. 757-5707

Widespread problem
What has been referred to by The British Journal of Criminology as a crack-forcars program isnt exclusive to Waco. Local authorities said this week it can likely be found in any urban area. Its not new, either. Crack rentals have been around since the epidemic emergence of the narcotic, although the phrase may not have been attached until the last decade, officials said. Despite the prevalence described by law enforcement, several legal and criminology experts said this week that they were neither familiar with the term or the practice. I have never heard of such as strategy . . . but its not necessarily surprising that drug dealers may adopt this for their own benefit, said Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D, an associate professor of sociology at Baylor. Such a practice is not a total shock. Its a creative way to take advantage of others. (Drug dealers) are criminals; they dont care about other people. In theory, crack rentals

Ongoing investigation
The longtime tax assessorcollector is currently under investigation by the Texas Rangers because he reportedly failed to pay $1,375 in sales taxes when he bought a truck in February. Court documents filed by the Rangers state Skeen admitted in a July 11 interview with a Ranger that he sold a county vehicle and then claimed it as a trade-in to reduce the sales tax on his new truck. On Wednesday the Rangers searched the countys downtown tax office, looking for documents detailing Skeens history of vehicle purchases. Skeen has refused to speak to reporters about the investigation, which touches on his use of money from an account filled by taxes on car dealerships. Car dealers across Texas prepay taxes on their inventories, and interest earned on the prepaid dollars flows into accounts controlled by tax assessor-collectors. The money is supposed to be used to defray the cost

can be a beneficial arrange Such a practice is not a total shock. ment for both dealers and Its a creative way to take advantage of drug users, experts said. The dealers get an undocumented others. (Drug dealers) are criminals; they rental car that has no ties to dont care about other people. their identity, should they encounter law enforcement Sung Joon Jang, Ph.D and decide to flee, or if the associate professor of sociology at Baylor University car is seized during an arrest. And its an easy way for drugusers to get their next fix or, ports, only to find the com- claim the car, Swanton said. for some people, just to get plainant lied, he said. Officers And thats often when police must take the initial reports, are called to referee and encash or groceries. civilian employees then enter sure the rightful owner of the Power of addiction the information into the sys- car is who ends up in possesBut in cases of drug users, tem, and an officer follows up sion of it. We dont want a disturits evidence of the power of on the case. Then, in the event the car bance, he said. We would addiction and the power of crack, said Steve Robertson, is spotted, authorities are re- say, Its your car, you can Wacos Drug Enforcement Ad- quired to make a felony stop get it back, but try to avoid a ministration agent in charge. involving multiple officers confrontation. Going to calls for such disHe described the Waco area making an arrest, often with putes, and sorting out who as having a significant prob- guns drawn. lem with the drug. In 2009, the department in- has a legal right to the car, is People will sell anything stituted new documentation in such a big drain on manpow their bodies, their friends an attempt to reduce the num- er, Swanton said. to feed that, he said. Were not a repo service, ber of false reports on stolen Although higher-level drug cars. Although not every com- he said. dealers have reputations plainant must sign one, people Additionally, car owners for preferring flashy luxury reporting a car stolen under involved in crack rental cars, most of the time deal- questionable circumstances agreements put themselves ers participating in crack are asked to sign the affida- at risk for losing their verental schemes are simply vit stating they did not loan hicle for good, said State Dislooking for a ride with a very their car out, or give anyone trict Judge Ralph Strother, practical, utilitarian purpose, permission to take the car, re- of Wacos 19th State District Swanton said. Court. gardless of remuneration. These are lower-level guys Anybody who loans out Its helped to stem the flow of on the food chain. Not sup- those cases, Swanton said, es- their car for that sort of activpliers, but low-end sales, he pecially for people who habitu- ity is running a big risk of not said. getting it back, he said, referally report their cars stolen. Because experts and offiIf the complainant is truth- ring to vehicle seizures. cials suspect the majority of ful about a crack rental Strother added that many such transactions are never problem, there may not be of the drug search warrants reported, its not known how much police can do, Swanton he signs are for vehicles not often they occur. registered to the subject of said. Drug dealers breaking the an investigation. Its par for crack rental agreement is Civil dispute course, he said. indicative of the relationship When a car is taken without Its very common . . . I rebetween dealers and the loan- the permission of the owner, member (these cases) even a ers of the car, Jang said. a charge of unauthorized use couple of decades back. A lot The drug dealers are a of a motor vehicle may be of (dealers) figured out that if power figure, not only in filed. But if the owner agrees the car is traced back to them, terms of symbol, but in terms to loan out a car for a period it creates problems for them, of real impact and intimida- of time in exchange for cash he said. Its mostly a defense tion, he said. From a deal- or other goods, its no longer or a disguise mechanism . . . ers point of view, they can a criminal matter, but a civil I guess its called entrepresee easily how to take advan- dispute, he said. neurship. tage of those people (who are) The registered owner is not able to appeal to the po- within his or her rights to re757-5748 lice. And they can certainly use actual physical force. When vehicle owners report the car as stolen in an effort to retrieve it, its considered making a false report to Saturdays story on Page 1C about the Six-Man All-Star a peace officer, given the cirgame should have stated that local official Michael Muhl will cumstances, authorities said. officiate the second half of the THSCA all-star game at 7:30 That creates a new set of p.m. Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. problems, Swanton said. Its time-consuming for the The Tribune-Herald uses this space to correct errors and make department to take such re- clarifications.

Getting it right

Temps for July 24
(Measured at Waco Regional Airport)








NORMAL High: 97 Low: 75

RECORD High: 105 (1977) Low: 65 (1989)

Chance of thunderstorms

Chance of thunderstorms

Mostly sunny and hot

Mostly sunny and hot

Mostly sunny and hot

Partly cloudy and hot

Partly cloudy and hot

High: 102; Low: 79 High: 102; Low: 80 High: 102; Low: 80 High: 102; Low: 78 High: 101; Low: 80 High: 100; Low: 76 High: 99; Low: 75

Waco Almanac
TEMPERATURE High Saturday 104 Low Saturday 80 Normal high 97 Normal low 75 Record high 107 (1974) Record low 62 (1915) PRECIPITATION Saturday Month to date Year to date Normal month-to-date Normal year-to-date SUN Today Tomorrow Sunrise . . .6:40 a.m.. 6:40 a.m. Sunset . . .8:30 p.m.. 8:30 p.m. MOON Today Tomorrow Moonrise .1:10 a.m.. 1:51 a.m. Moonset. .3:18 p.m.. 4:14 p.m. First Full Last

Regional Forecast
City Abilene Albuquerque Alpine Amarillo Austin Beaumont Brownsville Corpus Chrti Dallas Del Rio El Paso Fort Smith Houston Laredo Lubbock Lufkin Midland Okla. City Roswell San Angelo San Antonio Shreveport Texarkana Tulsa Waco Wichita Falls Yesterday Hi Lo Pcp 100 76 0 95 71 0 83 68 0.32 99 70 0 102 72 0 95 79 0.08 94 79 0 96 80 0 102 81 0 98 73 0.02 96 73 0 107 81 0 99 77 0 104 81 0 97 76 0 100 77 0 98 73 0 101 77 0 99 70 0 101 73 0 101 79 0 102 81 0 103 81 0 105 81 0 104 80 0 106 83 0 Today Tomorrow Hi Lo Sky Hi Lo Sky 102 78 pc 102 78 ts 91 71 ts 92 70 ts 90 66 pc 90 68 pc 98 71 ts 98 68 ts 100 74 pc 100 73 ts 93 77 ts 95 78 ts 94 81 pc 92 80 ts 97 77 pc 97 77 ts 101 81 ts 103 81 ts 101 78 pc 101 77 ts 93 76 ts 96 76 pc 104 77 ts 101 76 pc 98 78 ts 98 78 ts 106 80 pc 105 80 ts 100 77 pc 98 72 ts 99 76 ts 98 77 ts 97 74 pc 98 76 pc 102 79 ts 102 80 s 96 71 pc 99 70 pc 102 75 pc 102 77 ts 100 77 pc 100 77 ts 98 77 ts 99 77 pc 99 76 ts 99 77 ts 105 79 ts 101 78 ts 102 79 ts 102 80 ts 105 80 pc 104 80 ts

National Forecast
Albuquerque Anchorage Atlanta Austin Baltimore Birmingham Boise Boston Buffalo Cheyenne Chicago Cincinnati Cleveland Dallas-Ft.W. Denver Des Moines Detroit El Paso Fairbanks Honolulu Houston Indianapolis Kansas City Las Vegas Little Rock Los Angeles Memphis Miami

Yesterday Today Tomorrow Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky Hi Lo Sky

95 69 92 102 102 90 92 92 87 86 87 94 92 102 95 90 90 96 80 87 99 96 101 105 101 72 95 93 71 55 74 72 78 76 55 72 77 57 70 73 72 81 64 75 73 73 51 75 77 79 78 81 77 62 76 79 0 0 0 0 0.06 0 0 0.11 0 0 4.58 0.19 0.73 0 0 0.15 0.04 0 0 0.01 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 91 62 92 100 96 92 97 84 83 84 90 91 85 101 90 85 90 93 73 89 98 94 94 102 96 74 95 91 71 51 75 74 75 74 60 64 69 60 68 76 72 81 64 65 71 76 52 73 78 75 74 84 76 64 78 81 ts r pc pc ts ts s s pc pc ts ts ts ts ts ts ts ts c s ts ts ts pc ts pc ts ts 92 65 90 100 92 90 91 76 81 89 80 88 81 103 97 86 84 96 68 88 98 88 91 104 97 73 95 92 70 51 75 73 71 74 55 66 63 61 69 67 70 81 64 70 67 76 53 75 78 66 74 84 77 63 77 81 ts r ts ts ts ts s pc pc pc s ts ts ts pc s s pc r s ts pc pc pc ts pc ts ts

Milwaukee Minneapolis Nashville New Orleans New York Omaha Orlando Philadelphia Phoenix Pittsburgh Portland, ME Portland, OR Reno Richmond Sacramento St. Louis Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco Seattle Spokane T ucson Wash. D.C.

Yesterday Today Tomorrow Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky Hi Lo Sky

86 85 93 91 100 93 94 101 106 90 95 85 96 101 89 100 88 72 72 79 80 98 102 71 68 74 77 83 79 73 83 86 71 71 55 62 79 59 83 62 60 55 54 50 75 84 0.31 0.04 0 0.09 0 0 0.27 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.53 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 88 81 93 90 91 86 95 94 105 88 81 85 95 96 95 97 94 74 69 82 89 95 97 64 62 75 77 70 68 76 74 85 71 55 59 60 76 58 74 71 66 54 56 60 76 77 ts s ts ts ts ts ts ts pc ts s s s pc s ts s pc pc s s ts ts 76 84 92 92 84 90 94 88 105 84 76 74 92 94 92 90 93 74 70 70 83 96 94 66 66 72 78 69 73 77 72 85 63 59 58 57 71 59 71 71 65 54 56 55 76 72 s s ts ts ts pc pc ts pc pc pc pc s pc s pc pc s pc sh pc pc ts

0.00 0.09 New 11.03 1.73 19.07 July 30

Aug 6

Aug 13 Aug 21

Lake Levels
Elevations above sea level

Pollen Count
Trees Weeds Grass Mold Absent Low Moderate Low

Whitney Waco Aquilla Belton

Normal 533.00 462.00 537.50 594.00

Actual 519.45 458.20 534.64 588.18

EXTREMES: Hottest: 108, Enid, Okla. Coolest: 26, Stanley, Idaho

Spores/grains per cubic meter Source: Allergy and Asthma Center

Hot and humid conditions will be widespread once again over much of the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and the central and southern Plains today. In the West, high pressure will leave most locations dry, but with hot temperatures. A low pressure system will trigger thunderstorms from the Northeast and the Great Lakes to the central Plains.
KEY TO CONDITIONS: c=cloudy; dr=drizzle; fg=fog; i=ice; pc=partly cloudy; r=rain; rs=rain/snow; s=sunny; sh=showers; sn=snow; sf=snow flurries; t=thunderstorms; w=windy Forecasts and weather data 2011 Weather Central, LP, Madison, Wis.

30-Day Temperatures
120 110 100 90 80 70 60 50 40


Berlin Brussels Cairo Dublin Helsinki Hong Kong Jerusalem London

Yesterday Today Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky City

66 61 93 68 82 91 86 66 54 50 75 45 70 82 68 52 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 64 60 90 66 72 93 86 70 54 54 73 43 55 82 67 50 pc sh s pc sh s s pc Madrid Mexico City Montreal Moscow New Delhi Paris Rome Seoul

Yesterday Today Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky City

90 79 90 90 90 66 77 86 61 54 73 66 81 55 68 73 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 86 73 81 90 86 66 81 83 59 56 63 64 79 59 66 73 pc ts NA ts pc sh s ts Singapore Stockholm Sydney T okyo T oronto Vancouver Vienna Warsaw

Yesterday Today Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky

90 73 57 79 93 68 66 64 77 64 48 68 73 52 57 48 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 89 70 63 85 82 75 68 70 78 57 48 75 70 59 54 54 ts s s pc pc pc sh ts

Acapulco Amsterdam Baghdad Bangkok Beijing

Yesterday Today Hi Lo Pcp Hi Lo Sky

88 63 113 91 91 79 54 82 77 79 0 0 0 0 0 89 63 113 90 85 79 57 88 79 75 ts r s ts ts

6/26 7/3 7/10 7/17

Waco Tribune-Herald
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