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January 30th, 2005:

Too cold for beads

Mardi Gras Galveston has gotten off to a lukewarm start.

Tommie LeCroy, who owns a Louisiana-style grill called Bistro LeCroy, said his sales are down 40 percent compared to last year.

“It’s not been good at all,” said Lecroy, 56. “It’s too cold. I’m hoping tomorrow it’ll be warmer. If it warms up, everything goes great.

“The people just don’t drink that much beer and hurricanes when it’s cold.”

Lee Carter, a first-time beer vendor at the event, said he only sold 96 beers on Friday. He said he had hoped to sell more than 400 daily.

“Maybe it’s just the first weekend,” Carter said. “We need it to pick up.”

Temps are expected to be in the 40s and 50s for the next few days around here. I know that’s just breaking your heart up North.

At least someone is giving away a lot of product, whatever the crowd sizes may be.

Lynne Sassi said she believes attendance this year is down significantly. No figures were available late Saturday for Friday’s attendance.

The size of the crowd, however, hasn’t curbed the party mood on the Strand, she said.

“People are just begging for beads,” she said. “It’s been absolutely crazy.”

By early Saturday night, the Sassis already had run out of the 1,000 beaded necklaces they bought for $60 for the event’s opening weekend.

“Next weekend I’m spending $200 a night on beads,” Lynne Sassi said.

As Banjo notes, you don’t have to take your clothes off to get a boatload of beads. But a little flirting would help increase your odds (and your haul).

It’s in Hartnett’s hands

The next step in the Heflin challenge will be taken by Discovery Master Will Hartnett, who will issue his recommendations on Wednesday. Along the way, he rejected some bogus evidence presented by Team Heflin.

Hartnett, R-Dallas, ruled as irrelevant testimony by a Republican pollster who used calculations to project Heflin’s margin of victory.

Michael Baselice, an Austin-based pollster, testified Friday as an expert witness for Heflin.

Heflin’s lawyers said he would win by five votes, based on their analysis of 91 ballots cast by allegedly ineligible voters who have been willing to reveal their votes.

Baselice used a mathematical analysis, known as extrapolation, to determine that Heflin’s margin of votes would increase when applied to the remaining 250 potentially illegal ballots that were cast and counted.

“It’s a projection of a known quantity,” Baselice said. “It gives us an idea about how these may end up.”

Under cross-examination, Baselice acknowledged that what he did was “nothing more than middle school math.” He also said that he knew nothing about the votes, other than the percentage breakdown Heflin’s lawyers gave him.

Of course, we could have taken the evidence that three out of four illegal voters interviewed by the Chron had voted for Heflin, and extrapolated a much larger margin of victory for Vo. It would have been as scientific. Even if you could somehow claim this was a representative sample, the margin of error for a sample of 91 with a population of 40,000 is 10.26% (it’s 8.61% for a sample of 129; see below), which would make it a useless predictor for anything else. Why Team Heflin thought this was relevant evidence is beyond me.

For some odd reason, this story gives a different total in Baselice’s sample:

Taylor got sworn statements from 129 of the 250 people who cast what he says were illegal votes. Of those, 86 said they voted for Vo and 43 for Heflin.

Taylor argued that meant Heflin won the election by 10 votes.

Larry Veselka, one of Vo’s attorneys, said Taylor’s numbers show Vo winning by 37 votes.

As each vote was scrutinized over the past two days, attorneys argued over its legality. Hartnett made occasional comments, sometimes agreeing with one side and sometimes the other. He often said he would have to return to a specific vote.

At one point he told attorneys that “you’re asking me to assume an awful lot here.”

“No one knows for sure what he’s thinking,” said Rick Gray, one of Vo’s attorneys. “He’s giving everyone a fair shake.”

I don’t understand the reason for the discrepancy, but whatever – it was baloney either way. I’m just glad to hear that Team Vo has faith in Hartnett.

Finally, a quick hit from the Morning News.

Defeated GOP Rep. Talmadge Heflin continued his vanity bid Thursday, telling the Texas House why representatives should invalidate his loss to Democrat Hubert Vo. We remind you that this election has been through a few recounts already. And even some Republicans think Mr. Heflin has no business asking the House to throw out his loss. Most of all, we think the last thing the House needs is a partisan sideshow. The redistricting battles of 2003 split the place up enough. It’s time to heal and move on.