By Lynn Ashby 22 Dec. 2014
What a year it was! Military victories, parades, the troops came home, there was peace on earth and prosperity in the land. The year I am speaking of is 1945, of course, because 2014 was a real downer. Here in Texas, we elected or re-elected some strong arguments for Santa Anna’s return. The happy folks among us are those goofballs who won their elections and the Austin press corps, which is going to report on one of the most colorful (i.e. ridiculous, vindictive and insulting to our intelligence) legislative terms in eons.
So let’s honor those who made 2014 what it was, whatever that is. Our famed The ER to Avoid Trophy goes to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas which sent an ailing Eric Duncan home with aspirin to take for his illness. Turns out Duncan had Ebola and died soon afterwards. The mistake cost the City of Dallas $155,000 including $27,000 to quarantine and observe the dog of a nurse who became infected. In addition, the hospital said it lost $1.8 million in revenue. Moving on, police in Lufkin arrested 37-year-old Evelyn Hamilton after she called them to complain about the quality of the marijuana she had purchased from a dealer. Mind Your Pees and Qs: Robert Durst, the eccentric millionaire who beat a grisly Galveston murder trial, was charged with urinating on a cash register and candy display at a Houston drug store.
A Twitter, briefly sent out by ultra-conservative state Sen. (and soon to be our Lite Guv) Dan Patrick, read: “MARRIAGE = ONE MAN & ONE MAN.” All in caps. Choice Words Dept.: Texas governor and potential presidential candidate Rick Perry said people could decide whether or not they wanted to be homosexual just as “I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that.”
Biggest Bomb: Battleground Texas, an attempt to sign up voters for Democratic candidates. Some 34,000 volunteers blanketed the state, but the GOP swept everything. “I feel like road kill,” said one Battleground leader. “Nothing worked.” Nothing worked for most of the Texas Democratic Party, either. Wendy Davis & Co. got clobbered, so the GOP wins our coveted Elephant in the Room (and House and Senate) Trophy. After a lengthy review, members of the Republican National Committee narrowed the field for their 2016 national convention to two finalists. Dallas was beaten out by – ready? — Cleveland.
Just your luggage was lost? Dallas-based Southwest Airlines pilots landed at the wrong airport in Missouri. They told investigators they were confused by the small airport’s runway lights, believing it to be a larger airport in nearby Branson which is 7 miles away. Charif Souki, CEO of Houston-based Cheniere, received $142 million in cash and stocks, more than any other CEO in America. His company lost $507 million last year and has never made a profit. Omar J. Gonzalez of Copperas Cove broke into the White House, causing havoc in the ranks of the Secret Service and cost its head her job.
Most Missed Teasips: Harley Clark, UT head cheerleader credited with inventing the Hook ‘Em Horns sign, although I used to get constant letters from some guy in Beaumont who claimed it was his idea. Actor Eli Wallach died at age 99. Although from New York, he attended UT-Austin “because the tuition was $30 a year.” While in Texas, Wallach learned to ride horses which served him well in movies such as “The Magnificent Seven.” In his first Curtain Club role when he was a UT student, Wallach played a corpse. The part of the doctor was played by Walter Cronkite. Gray Matters: UT-Austin thought it had lost its minds. About 100 human brains kept in jars were missing. Later the school said the brains had been destroyed years ago, but not everyone believes that.
What’s Down, Doc? Baylor College of Medicine was placed on probation for 14 “areas of concern” by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. The Susan G. Komen Race for Cure Houston, named for Susan G. Komen who was Jewish, scheduled its annual race fund-raiser for Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Didn’t go over very well with the rabbis. Just Barge Right In: 168,000 gallons of thick oil spilled into Galveston Bay after a barge collided with a ship.
Now let’s look at sports. For the first time in 76 years (1937) UT-Austin did not have a single player picked in the NFL draft. Central Florida, ranked 15th, was a 17-point underdog against the 8th-ranked Baylor Bears in the Fiesta Bowl. The Bears were humiliated 52-42. It gets worse. Baylor along with TCU were snubbed from the first College Football Playoff. Happy gays are here again: Hitchcock native and Missouri standout football player Michael Sam announced before the NFL draft that he is gay. Nevertheless, he was taken by the St. Louis Rams – briefly.
In our Unsportsmanlike Conduct Category, NFL and Vikings superstar Adrian Peterson, now living in The Woodlands, was convicted of child abuse. J.J. Watts, the $100 million man, must feel lonely among his mediocre teammates. For the third straight season the Houston Astros had a dismal year, finishing next to the bottom it their division, 28 games out of first place. Only the Texas Rangers were worse – 31 games out. Nevertheless, manager Bo Porter was fired. The Rangers manager was also fired.
On a clear day you can see your feet: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality toxicologist Michael Honeycutt came out against tougher smog restrictions because “most people spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors.” Therefore, they are “rarely exposed to significant levels of ozone.” Cleaning up the air, the TCEQ official wrote, would cause natural gas and electricity prices to rise.
That about wraps it up for the year. Texas Monthly, feel free to steal from our list for your Bum Steer Awards — again.
Ashby is a year older at firstname.lastname@example.org