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January 31st, 2005:

When you gotta go…

There’s nothing wrong with doing a story about the availability of public toilets downtown. Doing such a story without mentioning that there are in fact public toilets downtown – indeed, doing such a story in such a way as to give the impression that there are no public toilets downtown – that’s not so good. But it’s what KHOU did this evening.

I’m talking about the downtown tunnel system, folks. You can’t tell from a street-level map, but once you’re in the tunnels, the maps they have down there very clearly mark where the various public facilities are. Oddly enough, all the Googling I did on “houston downtown tunnel” did not give me a single link that mentioned the presence of bathrooms in the tunnels, so KHOU missed an opportunity to educate here. Trust me on this – if you go in the tunnels, just look at a map there and you’ll find what you need.

The Pink Dome

You know, I was just saying to myself this morning that what the Texas political blogging scene really needs is a snarky Wonkette-style gossip blog centered around the Texas Lege. And lo, the fates have heard my plea. Thanks to Byron for the tip.

Still dreaming the impossible dream

Via Greg, I see there are two editorials discussing State Sen. Jeff Wentworth’s biennial quest to pass a bill that would take the chore of redistricting away from the Legislature and hand it to a balanced bipartisan commission. (His bill hasn’t been filed yet, or at least you can’t find it yet by doing a search for it. Out of curiosity, I called his office and was told it’s still being worked on.) I’m perfectly happy to see this happen, and if it does I hope his proposed commission is charged with ensuring that districts are compact and composed of communities of interest, but come on. There’s a reason things like this are called “quixotic”. The Republican leadership didn’t spend six months in 2003 carrying Tom DeLay’s water so that Jeff Wentworth could undo it all.

(Idle Machiavellian thought: Wentworth is up for reelection next year. Do you think DeLay and his cronies will threaten to have him primaried if he gets any traction? Wouldn’t surprise me, that’s for sure.)

I don’t want to let my pessimism detract from the rightness of this idea. The voters should be picking the representatives, not the other way around. One thing that really stuck out at me in Byron‘s post about Martin Frost’s effect on increasing Democratic performance in Dallas County was realizing that only one of five Congressional districts which contain a part of Dallas County is represented by a Democrat. Dallas was a fifty-fifty county last November, but the Congressional split is 4-1. I’ve never said that DeLay isn’t good at what he does, just that what he does isn’t good.

(For comparison purposes: Harris County’s delegation is 4-3 GOP, Bexar’s is 2-2, El Paso is 1-1, Tarrant is 4-0, and poor butchered Travis is 2-1.)

UPDATE: Byron notes in the comments that Wentworth was nearly knocked off in the primary in 2002:

JOHN H. SHIELDS REP 25,265 48.82% JEFF WENTWORTH(I) REP 26,481 51.17%

Wowser. May want to keep an eye on that for next year.

Your daily Heflin Challenge update

The Chron, which you may recall endorsed Talmadge Heflin for the November election, calls him the poorest loser and urges him to drop his electoral challenge against Rep. Hubert Vo.

I don’t know much about the International Labor Communications Association, but they have two interesting posts up regarding the details of the challenge hearing from last week. This one shows Andy Taylor’s retreat from the wild and ill-founded allegations of fraud that he was spreading around like grass seed as recently as a week ago, while this one concludes that when all is said and done, the revised count done by Discovery Master Will Hartnett will still result with Vo in the lead (latter link via Byron). Stay tuned.

Ashley McElhiney

I was shocked to look at my Sitemeter stats yesterday and see that I was getting thousands of hits from searches for Ashley McElhiney. Shoulda realized that could only mean she’s been in the news: She was fired after a bizarre on-court dispute with her team owner.

“I’m not going to comment on anything right now,” said McElhiney, the first female coach of a men’s pro basketball team. “We’re still trying to work things out. I’m on the phone with my agent right now.”

[Sally Anthony, a partner in the ownership group of the Nashville Rhythm] made national news when she fired McElhiney after an on-court dispute during a 110-109 win over the Kansas City Knights. The argument concerned the playing time of the team’s newest member, Matt Freije.

Playing under a two-game contract that has expired, Freije started and played most of the game despite Anthony’s orders to bench him.

Anthony approached McElhiney during the game and instructed her to bench Vanderbilt’s all-time leading scorer, who was recently released by the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats. McElhiney ignored the demand and Anthony was eventually restrained by security guards and taken off the floor.

After the game, Anthony addressed the team and gave them 24 hours to decide whether they would side with her or McElhiney.

None of the 10 players had contacted Anthony about the ultimatum, but in a statement released Sunday afternoon, the Rhythm’s Adam Sonn said the players were completely in the dark.

“She comes in and gives us this ultimatum, and we’re like – no disrespect intended – but this is all new to us. We hardly knew (Anthony).”

“I didn’t make it a hard deadline like it’s either you call in 24 hours or you’re out,” Anthony later said.

Check out the picture in that article. Looks like Sally Anthony has been taking lessons from the George Steinbrenner School of Sports Team Ownership.

More here and here. What a weird little story this is. I’m not going to claim there’s wisdom or virtue in defying one’s boss, but it’s not Ashley McElhiney who comes out of this looking bad. I thought she had a bright future when I first blogged about her, and I definitely still think that now.

Happy National Gorilla Suit Day!

Even if it is just a ploy by the gorilla suit manufacturers to sell more product. Mark Evanier will be your master of ceremonies for the day. Read more about this important national holiday here and here. Enjoy!