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October 20th, 2004:

All I have to say about the future of blogging

What Ezra said. I like what I’m doing just fine, I feel I’m making a difference with what I do here and at Texas Tuesdays, and if you look real close, you’ll see I’ve got no ads. Frankly, I don’t care what Reynolds, Billmon, or anyone thinks about “blogging”. Enjoy your mid-life crises, fellas. I’ll be over here looking for stuff to talk about.

Kenny Boy’s worst nightmare

Poor Kenny Boy. This is not what he had in mind when he asked to have his trial separated from Skilling and Causey.

Ex-Enron Chairman Ken Lay will face two separate criminal trials — one with ex-Chief Executive Jeff Skilling and former top accountant Rick Causey and another by himself.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake on Tuesday refused to separate Lay, Skilling and Causey into three trials as they had requested.

But Lake did decide that Lay’s four criminal charges relating to his personal banking activities should be tried separately from the Enron-related charges against the three former executives.

“This is Ken Lay’s worst nightmare. The government gets two bites at the apple,” said Jacob Frenkel, a Washington-based former federal prosecutor who has been following the case.

“First, it’s much easier to point fingers at people who aren’t sitting next to you in the courtroom, and second, if he’s convicted in one case and then faces the second, it becomes harder still for Lay,” Frenkel said.

[…]

David Berg, a Houston lawyer who has followed the case, said that “on balance, it’s bad news for Lay.”

Lay will now be contaminated by his co-defendants when he has far fewer Enron charges than they do, Berg said.

But he said the bank charges, similar to many he tried in the 1990s savings and loan cases, “can be very dangerous and easy to prove,” so Lay should be happy they are pulled out.

Berg said he suspects the judge will save the Lay banking charges for after the Enron case and they will never be tried. He said if Lay is acquitted, the government will likely not bother with the banking charges. And if Lay is convicted, the government will likely pursue a plea bargain.

Tom Kirkendall agrees with that assessment, and also points to this WaPo article on the Corporate Fraud Task Force, the federal prosecutors who are in charge of pursuing corporate criminals like Kenny Boy. It’s a pretty good read, so check it out.

Who’s your daddy, DeLay-style

Last week, I wrote:

[House Republicans support Tom DeLay] because he supports them financially and electorally

Want to know how much he supports them financially, and how many of them are on his dole? Look here. If you think your representative or Senator should join the four honorable ones who have given DeLay’s dirty money back to him, here’s a letter you can send.

Via Atrios.

Response to FBI report on Tulia

Last month I noted this article about an FBI investigation into the infamous Tulia drug bust. That investigation concluded there was no racial aspect to what disgraced former undercover agent Tom Coleman did. I had my doubts about the story, but didn’t delve into in in any detail.

There’s now a comment in that post which points to this Plainview Daily Herald piece which responds to that FBI report. It’s pretty persuasive. I’m reprinting it beneath the More link for posterity. Thanks to Scott for bringing it to my attention.

(more…)

Endorsement watch: 1st Court of Appeals

The Chron got back on board the Incumbent Express yesterday by endorsing Victor Carillo in the lone non-judicial statewide race, for Railroad Commissioner. They stayed there today by endorsing incumbent Justice Evelyn Keyes for the First Court of Appeals. I expected that in each case, so this is just to confirm my suspicions and to note that Keyes’ challenger is a neighbor of mine, Jim Sharp. He’s a good guy, and I recall promising to put up a yard sign for him at one point. I’ve seen a few other signs for him nearby, so I need to follow up. Anyway, check him out.

DeLay Debates! (And other stuff)

(UPDATE: I’m putting this at the top of the post as penance for having missed it in the first place. Jack, whose stepson shamed DeLay for his original I-won’t-debate stance, was there at the Clear Lake candidates’ forum yesterday and gives a great report on it. Check it out.)

Yes, children, Tom DeLay did confound everyone by actually showing up at the Clear Lake High School candidates’ forum last night.

Tom DeLay made a surprise appearance Tuesday night at a Clear Lake candidates forum.

There was so much speculation about whether the House majority leader would show up that even the sponsor, the Clear Lake High School Debate Club, said it wasn’t expecting him.

But about 30 minutes before the forum began, the students got a call that the Sugar Land Republican was on his way.

The candidates, including independent Michael Fjetland, Democrat Richard Morrison and Libertarian Tom Morrison (no relation), discussed local issues such as the San Jacinto Rail line and mobility, and national concerns including the war on terror and homeland security.

While the candidates debated the issues, much of the focus was on DeLay’s unexpected appearance.

“I didn’t think he was going to be here,” Fjetland said. “If I had known, I would have prepared better, but I winged it. If he didn’t show up, he realized he was going to look bad.”

DeLay said he didn’t know why people were surprised to see him, although he admitted he decided to attend at the last minute. He had earlier planned to attend a leukemia fund-raiser in Rosenberg.

Gosh, Tom, do you think that this might have been the reason why no one expected you?

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on Friday said that he would not debate Democratic challenger Richard Morrison before the Nov. 2 election.

[…]

“A debate would be for his benefit, not for mine,” DeLay said of Morrison.

He also said that a debate with Morrison would go largely unnoticed. “Unfortunately, debates in this area have never had an impact because media doesn’t cover them,” DeLay said. “Television never covers them. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and you show up to a forum where there are more candidates at the forum than constituents. I’d much rather be out with constituents, meeting them and going to events.”

No media coverage, huh? Well, in addition to the Chron story, the Galveston News has this and this, plus this picture currently sitting on their front page. I saw KTRK‘s story last night – it was the first thing they ran after the obligatory Astros fawning. I’m told the other stations were there as well, though KPRC just has the same AP story and KHOU has no link. And of course, we’re starting from a Chron story on the debate.

This Kos post has stuff about the debate and some new poll numbers. Be sure to read this comment about the other candidate named Morrison. Commenter Robert in this post attended the Clear Lake forum last night and shares his thoughts about it.

Back to the Chron story for a second:

DeLay said he is committed to bringing the parties together and finding a solution.

He’s talking about the proposed San Jacinto freight rail line through Clear Lake, which everyone who has a stake in the area already opposes except for, you know, DeLay himself. I just want to marvel at the thought of Tom DeLay working with anyone who opposes him on anything. If that’s not the most amazing thing to come out of a candidate’s mouth this election season, I don’t know what is.

Elsewhere, Rep. Chet Edwards debated Arlene Wohlgemuth, which you can read about here. Strangely enough, there was never any doubt that Edwards was going to show up, or surprise that he did.

More good endorsement news: The Morning News goes for Martin Frost, after having endorsed Edwards. The Statesman endorsed both Kelly White and Mark Strama in their State House races (via BOR). And Charlotte Coffelt picked up a pretty nice endorsement, too. Here’s the scoop from a campaign email she sent:

In the current issue of the Observer newspapers, you will see a letter of endorsement from Lauren Kasprzak in a paid campaign advertisement (for me), in which she describes overhearing Rep. [Joe] Crabb (while she worked for the Texas House of Representatives Redistricting Committee) in a conversation with another man who described the League of Women Voters as the “plague of women voters”. Now a senior at the University of Texas in Austin, Lauren learned a great deal about how the democratic process should not work by working with Rep. Crabb and became determined to help make it better–hence her support and endorsement of my candidacy.

Here’s the backstory on Ms. Kasprzak. Good on her for following her principles.

UPDATE: Max Sandlin picks up the endorsement from the Lufkin Daily News. Via The Stakeholder.

New downtown park

The city of Houston is buying land for a new downtown park.

The city has begun acquiring property for a 13-acre urban park that is likely to trigger substantial new development on the east side of downtown, Mayor Bill White said today.

White said the city signed a contract today with Crescent Real Estate Equities Inc. to purchase 5.29 acres just west of the George R. Brown Convention Center. The city will acquire the remaining, adjacent property by the end of the year, design the park next year and start construction in 2006, White said.

The park should be open by 2007, he said.

“You will see an explosion of growth around the periphery of this park,” White told the annual meeting of Central Houston Inc., adding that the new development would strengthen the city’s tax base and enhance the continuing revitalization of downtown.

White said private contributions would pay for at least 80 percent of the park’s estimated $80 million cost. The city’s contributions would come from hotel and entertainment tax revenues rather than property taxes, White said.

The new park, which would be the largest downtown and one of the largest in the central part of Houston, would attract convention visitors as well as local families, White said.

The park would complement the vision for downtown development over the next 20 years unveiled this week by Central Houston and other downtown organizations. The “framework for downtown development” calls for increasing downtown’s residential population from 3,000 to 20,000, and downtown leaders said parks were an important amenity to attract families to live downtown.

White said all great cities have preserved land in their centers for major parks. He said this may have been Houston’s last opportunity to acquire park property downtown before rising real estate values made it impossible.

“This will be a unique urban green space that will last for centuries in this community,” White said.

This is very good news, and quite frankly, it’s long overdue. I’m glad that the issue was recognized and the funding was assembled before the land became too expensive to purchase.

Kevin has some concerns about the costs of maintenance of this future park, especially in light of the city’s current cash crunch. That’s a valid point, regardless of whether you think the city’s current cash problems will be ameliorated by 2007 or not. Nonetheless, I believe this is a worthwhile investment. It’s also the sort of thing that I believe cities should make a priority. That this park apparently is a priority is a point in Mayor White’s favor for me.