Category Archives: Texas News

Shake Shake Shake – Shake Your Booty – But not During Mediation

Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal  of the Southern District of Texas expressly rued having to use the term “butt shaking” in an  opinion arising out of alleged attorney misconduct.  The Judge was writing in response to a motion to sanction  former BakerHostetler attorney Dennis Duffy for shaking his groovy thing  and insinuating that opposing counsel was gay because he has a ponytail during  a mediation in which Duffy represented his client Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. in an employment discrimination case.  The Judge called the behavior “clearly outside professional bounds,” but determined that sanctioning Duffy was not needed.

“One of the sentences a judge does not imagine — much less welcome — writing includes the words ‘butt shaking’ in describing a lawyer’s alleged actions at a mediation. Sadly, those words fit here.

Duffy’s professional reputation, and the closely related ability to attract new business, will no doubt suffer, and they should.”

Duffy did suffer consequences as he was forced to withdraw from the case and is no longer employed by BakerHostetler.

In the interest of full disclosure, Red had some past interactions with Duffy when he was General Counsel for a prominent Texas university located in a large city.  In his humble opinion, Red found Duffy to be pompous and insufferable but he never got to see Duffy engage in  some righteous butt shaking – an opportunity missed.

 

A Trumpian Solution – When in Doubt About Enforcement of Social Distancing Assault an Officer

Austin Park Ranger Cassidy Stillwell was talking to a crowd of people at Commons Ford Metro Park on Lake Austin who were described as “unlawfully drinking and smoking” and telling them that they needed to disperse to a nearby grassy area when Brandon Hicks apparently took offense.  Young Mr. Hicks pushed Cassidy into Lake Austin and was promptly arrested.   According to CNN ‘s description of a video of the events, the assault was unprovoked.

Amid the cross talk in the video, Stillwell is heard telling the crowd on the dock to “disperse yourselves” in the grassy area nearby because they were not maintaining physical distance of six feet. Some respond with “Will do” and “I got you, man.”

The ranger’s instructions are interrupted when the man pushes him into the shallow, murky water. The ranger holds on to the man’s arm and pulls him in, the video shows. The man, clad in a swimsuit, scrambles out of the water and rushes away.

The person shooting the video admitted that the park visitors were not following social distancing guidelines and that Stillwell “was just telling us to spread apart to keep our distance and honestly was being super reasonable and understanding.”  For Trump voters being super reasonable and understanding is a call to arms.

 

Let Lieutenant Dan be the First in Line

Red admits he was conflicted by the rolling shutdown of businesses in Texas and throughout the country.   First it was AustinDallas and then San Antonio issuing shelter-in-place orders.  But when Waco  and McClennan County officials announced a closure of all non-essential businesses, Red began to realize that we are in some seriously deep doo doo with this COVID-19 crisis in Texas.   When the heart of Texas and the heart of Texas conservatism (sorry Tarrant County – you’re getting kind of squishy) is taking this matter seriously, then something is really up.  Red doesn’t not pretend to be privy to the expert medical advice given to such officials, but if Waco is shutting down then the reports must be ominous.

Our Poor Idiot Governor Greg Abbott (and don’t take particular offense at this characterization as, in Red’s humble opinion, Abbott is just one in an almost continuous line of OPIG’s dating back to at least whoever came after Alan Shivers) has refused to do much of anything other than close schools and mumble something about gatherings of more than 10 people.  Even worse, Abbott has laughably claimed that he likes to defer to local authorities in such times of crisis.  Curious, how he and the GOP controlled legislature have repeatedly railed against local authorities when they have addressed relatively minor issues like plastic bag bans, tree protection ordinances and some more important ones like fracking bans.  His message has consistently been “I love local government – except when it goes against my right-wing Trumpian dogma.” But now it’s- “Hey, local guys you do what you think is right so that I can have my political cover come next election and say I didn’t destroy the Texas economy – it was all those local Democrats who overreacted.”  It must be tough to maintain a straight face . . .

And speaking of overreaction, here is Red’s take on the issue.  We will never know if the current measures being adopted were needed or effective.  Or at least there will never be an admission from the opponents of such measures that the a general shut down prevented thousands or perhaps millions of deaths.  If such shut-downs stop the spread of the virus, it would seem there is no real way to actually measure the effectiveness of such measures – other than maybe compare us to Italy or Spain.  Red did not do well in probability and statistics and will leave that to others.

However, if the naysayers get their way – maybe we will be able to tell if they were right or wrong.  If we all just go back to normal shoulder-to-shoulder daily life and work and play and COVID-19 kills off no more of us than might bite it in a typical bad flu season, then one could rightfully argue that a shut-down was not needed.  But here’s the kicker – if the let’s’-just-keep-rolling-along-as-if-this-is-no-big-deal crowd is wrong, really wrong, then the consequences could be catastrophic.  This is life and death folks – who wants to gamble?

Okay, so back to the real point of this little diatribe.  This morning Red awoke to the pronouncement of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that our senior citizens should be willing to go down taking one in the gut (or the lungs as the case may be) in order for their grandchildren to have a fully functioning economy.  Red will let Lt. Dan speak for himself here.

No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in. And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that.

I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me … that what we all care about and what we all love more than anything are those children.  And I want to, you know, live smart and see through this, but I don’t want to see the whole country to be sacrificed, and that’s what I see.

The message here seems to be pretty clear – Screw the old folks, we’ve got shit to sell.  And as an old man himself, Lt. Dan is taking the supposed high road.  In effect, “I’ll roll the dice because otherwise my political party and career are probably headed for the crapper.”

So while Red was conflicted (remember that’s how this all began), once he heard Lt. Dan’s noble gesture, Red knew that this was a serious problem and that any measures we take should not be half-hearted.  Stay at home as much as possible, wash your hands, maintain “social distance” (we really need a new name for that), enjoy your family, exercise, pull some weeds, have a nice drink, watch some Have Gun Will Travel reruns (highly recommended).  Do the right thing.

And while we are at, Red has some Kool-Aid ready for  Lt. Dan just in case he wants to be the first in line.  Take one for the team buddy!  One potential infection vector down!

P.S. –  On the way in, Red heard right-wing radio bloviator Michael Berry going on about what a crock these shut-downs are – effectively a Commie plot to destroy his beloved Republican Party and force everyone into government servitude.  If Red had any lingering doubts about whether a shut down was the right course of action, hearing Berry’s lying, fear-mongering rant removed any doubt.  A rule that is without exception:  When an utter POS like Berry is against something, it must be the right course of action.

The Year of the Woman (Judge that is)

Red was a bit perplexed by the utter dominance of the female judicial candidates in the Democratic primary earlier this month.  If you were a male running for judge in one of the major urban counties and faced a female opponent, you were very likely out of luck and not going to be on the ballot in November cruising to victory.  That women were winning was not a particular surprise, but the margins of victory in many of these races were astounding.  In your typical judicial race (where maybe 1% of the voters have some clue about the qualifications of the candidates) some of the female candidates were winning by up to 40 points.  Red can understand the woman candidate winning based on demographics and turnout but a 40 point margin in a race between two unknowns is almost bizarre.

In the process, Texas lost some very good male judges.  That is not to say that the new judges will not be as good, but booting out those with a proven track record for the unknown is somewhat disturbing.   Fortunately Off the Kuff has some analysis that may keep Red from going off the deep end.

Someone finally came to their senses and guess what, it wasn’t Our Poor Idiot Governor

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Despite repeated warnings, crowds of spring breakers still flooded into South Padre Island earlier this week as our State government did nothing to prevent such mass gatherings.  Our youths were not about to let the fear of COVID-19 stop the partying because – well, their brains are still forming and those judgment regions are still a work in progress.  That’s why sometimes you have to exercise some authority.  Our Poor Idiot Governor took no action and crowds of several thousand SBers were seen at venues across SPI.  Fortunately, some less idiotic heads prevailed and county officials in south Texas banned gatherings of more than 50 people.  This cut down the crowds considerably in the last day or two, but who know if the COVID-19 cow has kicked down the barn door.

Is Houston’s Economy Sinking?

Texas’ largest city is staring at some bleak economic numbers according to Texas Monthly.  With oil and gas prices falling and Houston not being known as an innovation hub, some economists are wondering what will prop up the Houston economy in the near-term.  It certainly is not a tourist destination.  As Red has remarked, one of the worst things about Houston is no one ever comes to visit you and one of the best things about Houston is no one ever comes to visit you.

One interesting point the TM article makes is how the University of Houston led by Tillman Fertita (billionaire owner of bad restaurants and crappy resorts) and State Sen. John Whitmire killed off the University of Texas’ planned expansion on a 300 acre site just south of Loop 610.  That project would have been a major engine of economic growth for the city, but was shit-canned because UH was afraid of any real competition. Maybe rightfully so.  For a city of almost 5 million to have only two major universities (UH and Rice) and a smattering of smaller second or third tiers (TSU, HBU, St. Thomas, UH-Downtown) is almost criminal and clearly has held Houston back compared to other areas who apparently value higher education.   Good work in protecting your turf at the expense of your community guys!

Red on Panic Buying

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Red and Mrs. Red went to the local larder on Tuesday night to stock up on a few things.  There wasn’t really panic buying yet, but there were some early signs.  Like the guy in front of Red in line who had snapped up 5 boxes of Whataburger Pancake Mix.  Mrs. Red noticed that he had forgotten the syrup.

But now, panic buying is probably done with for a few days because the shelves have been cleaned out.  This will be good news for the local food banks in a few months as people don’t know what to do with the case of tomato puree and canned potatoes that they bought.

Here’s Red’s simple tip for knowing when panic buying has reached the crazy stage:

WHEN THE LITTLE DEBBIES ARE GONE, THE END TIMES ARE NEAR!