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Archive for November, 2008

"Racehorse" Haynes

I’m writing while sitting in the courthouse gallery on Monday morning, at the punishment phase of P. David Romei’s felony trial.  Saturday night the jury convicted the former Executive Director of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley on two of the three counts of theft and misappropriation of public and private funds.  Today the jury decides if David will go on probation or serve as many as ten years in prison.

1. As my two previous posts note, I think the case against David was overwhelming.  That the jury deliberated for more than 30 hours over two and one-half days bespeaks the caliber of our citizenry that answers a jury summons.  That they acquitted him on one charge while convicting him on two—while reducing one felony charge to a misdemeanor—shows the careful, deliberate way in which they approached their duties.  One of the newspaper articles said a fraction of those summoned showed up, and that extras had to be diverted from the leftover jury candidates from another trial.  It looks like the best members of the potential jury pool took their civic duty seriously. (more…)

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I went to see District Attorney Bill Turner’s cross examination of P. David Romei Tuesday afternoon.  It was brutal.  Romei, already worn out by some eight hours of direct examination over two days, sparred in a spirited fashion with the DA, but Turner won every round on points, if not by knockout. The twelve jurors and two alternates seated across the small courtroom could not have failed to note the one-sided nature of the bout.   A first-time felony defendant is no match for a prosecutor with several decades of courtroom experience, but Romei contributed to his own demise with a series of gaffes and failed attempts at self-effacement.  It didn’t help that the case against him appeared devastating. (more…)

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When I was a kid growing up in Louisiana, no public building, bridge, highway or any other taxpayer-funded project could bear the name of a living person.  Why?  Louisiana masons over the years made a killing chiseling off  the names of politicians and public officials who had taken up residence in state or federal penal institutions.

Those services could be needed in College Station soon.  P. David Romei, former executive director of the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley and a graduate school classmate of mine, went on trial this week for embezzling public and commission funds.  If convicted, he could be directing prison art and dramatic productions for the next decade.  Meanwhile, every day local citizens drive by the multimillion dollar Arts Center, emboldened with his name in sliver letters on black marble.  I wonder what that would cost to modify? (more…)

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They said who would be violent on election night?

Five minutes after I returned home from the election night celebration with the Brazos County Democrats, as I was tuning the television to Barack Obama’s victory speech, three shots rang out.  Gunmen fired into my dining room window, while my wife and 6-year-old daughter sat the table doing homework.  They then smashed the rear window of my wife’s Durango before they sped off to the roar of a diesel engine.

I guess a segment of the fine law-and-order crowd in our Republican-dominated community couldn’t put up with the disappointment of losing an election, nor the presence among them of partisan Democrats who actually supported the idea of a black man becoming president.  Perhaps that was too much to bear for the progeny of slave owners.  So, they endangered my family’s life in order to release their violent inhibitions. (more…)

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Margarita Rocks Restaurant, College Station, Nov. 4, 2008

Yes, there are Democrats in Aggieland, and did we party on election night!

A loyal Democrat owns a local Mexican restaurant.  We had all our debate parties there, enjoying nachos and margaritas while watching hapless John McSame unsuccessfully try to ruffle Barack.  Fortunately, the fire marshal didn’t show up on election night, as we packed the place to the walls.  There were hundreds of us, pitted against a couple of Republicans seated at the bar, who did their best to cheer as returns from Mississippi and Alabama trickled in.  When Florida and Ohio went for Barack, the blue dye was cast.  We knew the explosion would occur at ten o’clock, when west coast voting would cease and the networks would project the inevitable winner.

Then it happened.  Eight years of indescribable frustration manifested itself in a joyous eruption.  Hugs, high fives, and smiles the width of the Brazos River permeated the faces of those who had put up with more than their share of office colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors–ultraconservative Bush lovers who defiantly remained out of step with the rest of the educated world.  Brazos County, home of Pappy Bush’s presidential library, voted as if it were willing to put up with four more years of the same, but Texas moved five percent closer to turning blue.  The Hispanic vote, which naysayers predicted would never turn out in support of a black man, rolled in solidly for Barack.  The cities, Houston, Dallas, and Austin, reflected solid support for Democrats.  The 17th Congressional District, in which we reside, did reelect George W.’s Democratic congressman, Chet Edwards.  A “Blue Dog” he may be, but he’s our blue dog! (more…)

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It was election night, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.   At precisely 10 p.m. Central Standard Time, the west coast polls closed.  Instantaneously, the networks projected that the United States of America had elected its first African-American president.  At that precise moment, thanks to the resaurant’s wi-fi connection, I pressed the “send” button to post this video on the Politics forum of the Texags.com web site.  I had been working on it, off and on, for about a week, in anticipation of Barack Obama’s victory that would bedevil the conservative political sensitivity of the god-fearing, Limbaugh-listening, arch political conservatives who inhabit this forum.

I entitled it, We’re So Sorry, Right-Wing Aggies. I’ll admit, I did it to make them mad.  There’s not a lot of tolerance for left-wing though on that forum, so I thought I’d tap the moment for a bit of fun.

You should have seen the reaction.  Some 50 Aggies watched the clip on Blip.tv within just a few minutes.  Their anger flowed back with every click of the reply button.  How dare I include Earl Rudder in this video!  It’s riddled too many inaccuracies to list, one replied.  Two insisted that Alan Keyes was right to advocate repeal of the 17th Amendment.   One correspondent said he wanted to punch me in the face. (more…)

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