Like I said, I had two finals and an 18 page page paper due today, so I did very little blogging over the weekend. That being said, I would like to examine the big things I missed. Sophia is going to be at the Harris County Democratic Party headquarters this evening to follow the drama of last-minute filings and the like, and we’ll work on a somewhat comprehensive article on that topic either tonight or tomorrow morning. Also, I realize that Justice Larry Meyers of the Court of Criminal Appeals switched parties today, but I will be discussing that in greater detail in another post.
First and foremost, the Texas Tribune reports that the long-plagued CPRIT (Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas) is back in the news as one of its officialls has been indicted on charges of impropriety. This investigation, spurred by the Travis County DA’s Public Integrity Unit, is focused on Jerry Cobbs. He is accused of doling out contracts to his friends unlawfully, a first-degree felony, possibly punishable by life in prison. Sophia beat me to the punch on this story, as did Brains & Eggs, Burnt Orange Report, Off the Kuff and South Texas Chisme.
Speaking of the Public Integrity Unit, Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg has begun a Civil Trial that could very easily end up removing her from office, so reports the Austin American-Statesman. The astute will probably recall that Lehmberg was arrested earlier this year for driving
drunk absolutely schwasted and later served a few weeks in jail for the offense after summarily pleading guilty. Governor Perry later made a bit of a fool out of himself, threatening her office with drastic cuts unless she resigned. She didn’t resign, he vetoed funding for the office, and now he is being investigated for extortion. Oops. Anyways, there is a rarely invoked Texas law allowing for county officeholders to be removed from office for “intoxication.” That is what Lehmberg is going to trial (a non-jury trial) over.
Finally, the Houston Chronicle reports recently that HISD is taking decisive action to, among other things, rename the mascot of Lamar High School (the redskins). Specifically, the paper published an op-ed by HISD Superintendent Terry Grier on the topic. As the sagacious will remember, I believe this is an invaluable step towards bringing Houston in the 21st century, but it is just a start; there is still much work left to do. I wrote a Letter to the Editor on this topic to the Chronicle, but they didn’t print it, so I will paste it below.
To the editor:
While I found it heartwarming to read Dr Terry Grier’s recent opinion piece “It’s time to retire school mascots that no longer reflect our values,” it reminded me of how much left there is to do to combat the ignorance still present in our school district.
I absolutely agree with Dr Grier that it is long past time to discontinue use of offensive mascot names, be it those that belittle Native Americans (i.e., Redskins) or insult African-Americans (i.e., Rebels). I even spoke on this topic at the first HISD Board meeting Dr Grier oversaw, back in 2009. However, I also believe that such a policy would be meaningless if we lack the spine to go after the root of this ignorance and offensiveness, our misplaced reverence to historical figures and episodes in our history, some of which have received the honor of schools named after them.
Just among the schools mentioned in Dr Grier’s article, two have been named after less-than-ideal role models for our children. Mirabeau Lamar made sport out of massacring Native Americans, and far more recently, Louie Welch proudly exclaimed that the best solution to the AIDS crisis was to “shoot the queers.” Now both have a school named for their likeness.
But perhaps most odious of these honorifics are schools named for those who seceded from this country in defense of the horrors of slavery during the Civil War. Three high schools are named after such men: Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee and John Reagan. If Dr Grier is serious about respecting other cultures, this would be the best place to start.
—Noah M. Horwitz