The Darsch Report: June 21 to 27

Armed man barges into Bexar County Elections Office

On Friday morning, June 25, a 24-year-old man, whom authorities suspect was hallucinating from drugs, barged into the Bexar County Elections Office after he had fired shots inside a nearby hotel room

According to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, Jouwan D. Williams Thomas jumped over the counter in the office on South Frio Street around 10 a.m. and said he was being chased. The suspect went into a secured area before a SWAT unit and other law enforcement personnel quickly arrived and apprehended the suspect. No injuries were reported.

While Thomas didn’t open fire inside the elections office, he did fire several shots of a 9mm handgun that penetrated some rooms at a Quality Inn nearby, Salazar said. No injuries were reported at the hotel. Salazar said the suspect had a high-capacity magazine in the gun and a similar magazine in the hotel room.

Salazar said it was initially believed that Thomas fired shots because of a drug deal gone bad, but it now appears that he may have been suffering from a drug-induced incident. High-grade marijuana and possibly synthetic marijuana were found in the room.

State Sen. José Menéndez was in the back of the elections office for a meeting with officials when the incident happened, Salazar said.

“They were pretty scared,” Salazar said of the election staff. “They locked down, sheltered in place. Kudos to the elections staff.”

Texan Voter Fraud

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on Friday, June 25, that the Election Fraud Unit arrested and booked Monica Mendez into the Victoria County Jail on June 23, 2021, after a Victoria County Grand Jury returned an indictment against her on 31 counts of election fraud.

Mendez is being charged on 7 counts of Illegal Voting (a 2nd Degree Felony), 8 counts of Unlawfully Assisting Voter Voting Ballot by Mail (a 3rd Degree Felony), 8 counts of Unlawful Possession of a Ballot (a State Jail Felony), and 8 counts of Election Fraud (a State Jail Felony).

The charges relate to eight mail-in ballots in a May 2018 water district board election in Bloomington, a town of around 2,500 residents near Victoria.

According to the press release, the Texas Secretary of State referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office after Bloomington residents raised allegations of illegal voting and other election code violations. One specific concern being that about 275 people, out of a town of 2,500, tried to register as new voters using the same mailing address, according to local government officials.

Other residents of Bloomington were supposedly threatened with rent increases if they did not vote for their landlord’s preferred candidate in the local water department elections.

Miami Condo Collapse

Rescue efforts continue in the search of all those missing after Thursday’s June 24 tragedy in which a Surfside condo collapsed.

As of Sunday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the death toll had risen to 9, and the number of people missing was reduced to 152. “We were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble as well as additional human remains,” the mayor said.

Additionally, although the investigation has just begun, experts who have examined video footage of the disaster outside Miami are focusing on a spot in the lowest part of the condominium complex—possibly in or below the underground parking garage—where an initial failure could have set off a structural avalanche.

Called “progressive collapse,” the gradual spread of failures could have occurred for a variety of reasons, including design flaws or the less robust construction allowed under the building codes of four decades ago, when the complex was built. But that progression could not have occurred without some critical first failure. Close inspections of a grainy surveillance video that emerged in the initial hours after the disaster has given the first hints of where that might have been.

“It does appear to start either at or very near the bottom of the structure,” said Donald O. Dusenberry, a consulting engineer who has investigated many structural collapses. “It’s not like there’s a failure high, and it pancaked down.”

US Economy

Supported by positive news from the Federal Reserve and hopes that a good infrastructure deal would be announced soon, the stock market did well over the past week. The Dow Jones increased to 34,433.84 on Friday, increasing by +1,143.76 points, or +3.44 percent over its June 18 close of 33,290.08. The S&P 500 increased by +114.25 points or +2.74 percent on Friday to a record high of 4,280.70. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by +2.35 percent.

China Announces Crewed Missions to Mars

Last week the People’s Republic of China announced plans to send its first crewed mission to Mars in 2033 as it continues to boost its space ambitions in a battle with the U.S.

Wang Xiaojun, head of the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, outlined the country’s Mars plans for the first time this month at a space conference in Russia, according to the academy.

It comes just weeks after China landed a remote-controlled rover called Zhurong on Mars, making it the only country after the U.S. to do so.

Wang said the first step in China’s plans is to use robots to explore Mars to sample its surface and help select a place to build a base. The next stage would be to send astronauts up to Mars to build a base station there. Then China wants large-scale Earth-to-Mars cargo missions.

China has earmarked 2033, 2035, 2037, 2041, and 2043 for such missions and said it would explore technology to fly astronauts back to Earth.

The revelation of China’s Mars goals comes after a string of successful space missions. China has begun construction of its own space station and earlier this month sent the first astronauts up there. It was the first time China sent a crewed mission to space since 2016.

NASA says it plans to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.

The Texan Border

Over the weekend, nearly 100 days after being appointed by President Joe Biden to address the immigration crisis at the southern border, Vice-President Kamala Harris visited an El Paso border facility.

During a press conference, Harris touted “extreme progress” made by the Biden administration in tackling the migrant surge despite inheriting a “tough situation” due to the “disastrous effects” of the Trump administration’s border policies. 

When asked why she visited El Paso instead of areas that have been more acutely hit, like the Rio Grande Valley Sector, Harris explained that El Paso was where a number of Trump policies, like the Remain-in-Mexico policy and child separation policies, were implemented. 

This comes as more than 180,000 migrants were apprehended at the southern border in May, an increase over the 178,000 encountered in April and 173,000 encountered in March—all representing the highest numbers in years. In addition, 173,000 in March was a big increase from the 100,000 migrants encountered in February.

With or without help from the Biden Administration, Governor Greg Abbott is continuing to promote the continued building of a border wall along the Texan-Mexican border. Over the span of about a week, Texas received $459,000 in private donations for the state’s planned wall at the southern border, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

This comes after the governor promised a $250 million “down payment” in state funds for the project.

The Darsch Report: January 11 to 17

Election Fraud at Home

On Wed., Jan. 13, a San Antonio woman, Rachel Rodriguez, was arrested for election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot, according to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Because each charge being is a felony under Texas legal code, Rodriguez could face up to 20 years in prison. 

The arrest happened after a video from Project Veritas appears to show Rodriguez engaged in vote harvesting leading up to the 2020 election. 

“Many continue to claim that there’s no such thing as election fraud. We’ve always known that such a claim is false and misleading, and today we have additional hard evidence. This is a victory for election integrity, and a strong signal that anyone who attempts to defraud the people of Texas, deprive them of their vote, or undermine the integrity of elections will be brought to justice,” said Paxton. “The shocking and blatantly illegal action documented by Project Veritas demonstrates a form of election fraud my office continually investigates and prosecutes. I am fiercely committed to ensuring the voting process is secure and fair throughout the state, and my office is prepared to assist any Texas county in combating this insidious, un-American form of fraud.”

Abortion Abolition

With the Texas legislature’s 87th session having begun on Jan. 12, we are bound to see some odd occurrences and bills enter the House and Senate. On Thursday, Jan. 14, Freshman State House Representative Bryan Slayton (R-Royse City) introduced an amendment to the House rules that would have forced the House to vote on abolishing abortion before they could take up any bills or solutions with the naming of bridges or streets. According to Slaton, the purpose of the amendment was to prioritize legal protection for unborn children.

The Amendment was voted down 41 to 99

However, following Slaton’s remarks on the Amendment, Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) proposed including a list of seven other conservative priorities along with abolishing abortion.

Another Covid Relief Plan

On Thurs., Jan. 14, President-Elect Joe Biden laid out another COVID-19 relief plan totaling an estimated $1.9 trillion and focusing on stimulus checks.

In the plan, more than $1 trillion would be allocated towards raising the stimulus check totals from that last relief package to $2,000 instead of $600. The plan would also allocate about $400 billion towards “pandemic response,” including expanding testing, emergency paid leave, and school funding. Additionally, another $440 billion would be allocated to small businesses, local communities, and transit systems that are struggling.

The bill targets these areas and seeks to expand the social safety net in America significantly. In Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, unemployment benefits would be raised by $400 and along with eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and the increased SNAP benefits would last through the end of September.

However, probably the most costly for the nation would be the added proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The CBO estimates that such an endeavor could lift about 1 million workers to wages above the current poverty line, but it would also cost the US economy an estimated 1.3 million jobs. This comes only days before Biden said that he would bring forward “legislation his first day in office to provide a path to citizenship for… the roughly 11 million people in the U.S. illegally”.

A Texan Demonstration

On Sun., Jan. 17, a group of demonstrators, calling themselves “libertarian”, held a demonstration for a second day outside the closed-off Texas Capitol. The demonstration consisted of dozens of people, many of whom were openly carrying semiautomatic weapons, rifles, and knives, but remained peaceful through the afternoon.

Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said in a press release before either demonstration that the “Texas Department of Public Safety is aware of armed protests planned at the Texas State Capitol this week and violent extremists who may seek to exploit constitutionally protected events to conduct criminal acts.”

Individuals at the event said they were taking the DPS Director seriously and had walked around the capitol grounds to make sure no “provocateurs” took over the event.

“The big worry was we were gonna have tons of MAGA, QAnon people here to come and disrupt it, but it hasn’t been the case,” said Stephen Hunt, who had traveled from the Abilene area to attend this event.

Hunt did not want to identify the groups involved but did mention to KXAN that he was neither a Trump nor Biden supporter in the presidential election and he hopes that “this election has proven to people we need some change in our election laws.”

Capitol Raiders in San Antonio

On Sun., Jan. 17, FBI agents raided the home of and arrested Matthew Mazzocco, a local loan officer, following his appearance at the raid on the United States Capitol Building on Jan. 6.

According to MySA, Mazzocco posted a TikTok that was later reported to the FBI, appearing to show him as part of the raid on the US capitol but instructing others not to break or vandalize anything while inside the building.

“Don’t break or vandalize anything,” Mazzocco is seen saying in the video. “We’re probably all going to get in trouble for what we’re doing at some point in time.”

Following his trip to the US capitol, CMG Financial, the company listed as Mazzocco’s employer, commented stating “This person is no longer employed by CMG Financial. Our HR team has requested that he remove CMG Financial from his profiles as he does not work here.”

The FBI has confirmed that the arrest was made Sunday and will provide public documentation regarding the case soon.

Special Agent Michelle Lee told News4SA that there is “no immediate threat to the community at this time.”

US Economy

The stock market stayed mostly flat over the week as the Dow Jones decreased to 30,814.26 on Friday, decreasing by -149.43 points, or -0.63 percent over its Jan. 11 close of 31,008.69. The S&P 500 decreased by -31.36 points or -0.83 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -0.29 percent.