In San Antonio, Ricardo Jones shot an air gun at a restaurant manager, displayed a semiautomatic assault rifle and pistol, then exchanged gunfire with three police officers. Jones drove away, but later held off police during a three-hour standoff at a hotel. Tear gas had to be used to get Jones out of the room. Why? He had ordered seven Beefy Crunch Burritos and was surprised to learn that the price had gone from 99 cents to $1.49.
In Houston, Bridgett Nickerson Boyd‘s car broke down on a freeway, a sheriff’s deputy wrote her a ticket for driving on the shoulder and finally drove her to jail. Boyd, who is black, claims in a lawsuit that the handcuffs were put on her wrists painfully tight, etc. and, worst all, she said she was forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh “make derogatory comments about black people” all the way to the jail. She sued alleging many wrongs, and, for being forced to listen to Limbaugh, intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Yes, 2011 was that kind of year in Texas. So let’s continue with our two-part look at that year’s winners before Texas Monthly steals all our good ideas for its Bum Steer Awards.
The Spies of Texas: Vice Adm. William H. McRaven of San Antonio and UT, where he was a journalism major, masterminded, or led – these guys are so secretive — the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. If he really is William H. McRaven.
Missed: Eunice Sanborn of Jacksonville, Tex., died at the age of 114 – the world’s oldest person.
Longhorn of Plenty: Facing drastic cuts in the UT System’s budget, including higher tuition and fewer scholarships, UT regents hired Rick O’Donnell, a conservative think tank consultant, for $200,000 a year. His job description was remarkably similar to that of Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa. After huge indignation, O’Donnell was fired.
Half Nelson Quote: “I’m gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he’s gotta sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ with his guitar right there in the count room. You bet your (rear) I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson.” – Hudspeth County attorney Kit Bramblett, offering a musical deal to the singer after several ounces of marijuana were found on his tour bus. After his plea proposal went nationwide, Bramblett said he was just kidding.
A Grave Mistake: Reacting to an anonymous phone tip from a woman claiming to be a psychic, local law officers, the FBI and a horde of media descended on a lot near Hardin in East Texas looking for a mass grave containing scores of mutilated bodies, including those of children. Nothing.
Aransas County court-at-law Judge William Adams was taped cursing at his teenage daughter and using a belt to whip her for violating his orders to stay away from the Internet. Adams told a local TV station: It’s “not as bad as it looks on tape.” In the assault trial of oft-seen-on-TV hand-surgeon Michael (“Daddy’s baby girl”) Brown, it was charged that among the objects Brown threw at his wife was Brown’s 2010 Humanitarian Award. He was acquitted.
Double Big Dipper: Gov. Rick Perry is collecting an annual salary of almost $133,000 plus a $7,700 monthly state pension from his earlier state offices. He reported a total annual income of $290,000 including his wife’s salary of $65,000 giving him a net worth of at least $1.3 million. Not bad for a guy who’s been a Texas state employee much of his adult life.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Texas has received at least $1.7 billion from federal Homeland Security to fight terrorism. Local governments spent it on a $21 fish tank in Seguin, a $24,000 latrine on wheels in Fort Worth, and, in Liberty County, grants bought $6,167 worth of dog crates, feed pans and a hog catcher. Others bought Ziploc bags.
San Antonio was named the best-performing city in the nation in 2011 by the Milken Institute, a nonpartisan economic think tank. Houston was ranked 16th but was Numero Uno among the nation’s 10 largest metropolitan areas. In sports, seven starting quarterbacks in the NFL are Texas high school products. Eight when Vince Young plays for an injured Michael Vick.
Tale of Two Cities: The Houston Astros finished the ’11 season with the worst record in major league baseball, 40 games out of first place. The Texas Rangers went to the World Series – and finished in last place. The Houston Rockets finished 18 games out, while the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA championship. Big D has a great video out touting the city, complete with an address by Mayor Mike Rawlings and a shot of, uh, the Houston skyline.
Houston gave us all sorts of dummy awards. In anticipation of heavy snow, the city of Houston spread liquid magnesium chloride on the streets at a cost of $68,250. Houston got ice instead, along with 800 wrecks and four traffic fatalities.
He Was Framed: This guy appears at the door of a fancy Houston house. He wears a ski mask, gloves and carries a black semi-automatic weapon, demanding money and jewelry. “But wait,” says the owner/victim, “notice that painting on the wall. It’s very valuable.” So the burglar also takes a priceless Renoir, his “Madeleine Leaning on Her Elbow.”
Four people, two of them employees of the International Bank of Commerce in Houston, were charged with robbing their bank after a tip that two of them wrote on their Facebook pages, “Get$$$.” “I’m rich” and “Wipe my teeth with hundreds.” Also, during a high-speed chase demonstration staged by the Houston police for Chinese law enforcement officials, two patrol cars collided, injuring seven people, including five of the People’s Police.
Houston’s State Sen. Dan Patrick, who constantly rails against Washington’s outside interference in state matters (“Austin knows best.”), filed a bill to exempt churches and schools from a Houston drainage fee which had already approved by the voters. It seems Austin knows best.
Next, we take a closer look at more of Houston’s contributions to 2011, while we await 2012 with mixed feelings.
Ashby wins at email@example.com