Edited By Lauri Apple, Fri., Nov. 23, 2001
Thanksgiving is Thursday. Be thankful you're not an Afghan farmer hiding from the War on Terrorism, a Colombian farmer hiding from the War on Drugs, an American casualty of the War on Welfare, or a contestant on a reality TV show.
This holiday season, you'd better buckle up, leave the beer at home, and abide by the speed limit. As part of Operation ABC -- America Buckles up Children -- Dept. of Public Safety troopers and other Texas law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout this weekend for road safety scofflaws, including seatbelt violators, speeders, and drunk drivers. State law now requires any child 4 years old or younger or less than 36 inches tall be restrained in an approved child safety seat. All kids under 16 must wear a seatbelt.
The city of Round Rock, once the darling of little boomtowns, has seen its economic development powers shrink substantially since Dell Computer's massive layoffs last spring. In the latest and largest hit since the Dell downturn, Tellabs Inc., a telecom equipment manufacturer and a Round Rock mainstay since 1980, says it will close shop altogether, laying off its local workforce of 435 and shuttering its factory in March.
Virginia Glore (see "Raped Twice," Oct. 12, austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-10-12/pols_feature.html) returned to court Tuesday morning and learned that her case will be continued until Feb. 19, 2002. Glore -- charged Aug. 4, 2000 with a DWI after wrecking her husband's car on South Congress -- maintains she was drugged in a bar on Sixth Street and then transported to a South Congress motel, where she was raped. She believes she was fleeing her attackers at the time of the accident. Glore's lawyer, Keith Taniguchi, requested court funds to hire a Drug Recognition Expert to testify at trial in Glore's defense.
Last month the Bush administration asked the Qatar government to "rein in" the al-Jazeera news network, which has allowed anti-American viewpoints to be heard in the Middle East. On Nov. 13, the U.S. military did the job for them by bombing al-Jazeera's Kabul office. No one was there at the time. The military claims that the building was a "known al-Qaeda facility," and that they didn't know al-Jazeera was using it. But an al-Jazeera spokesman replied, "They know where we are located, and they know what we have in our office, and we also did not get any warning."
The federalization of airport security personnel can't come soon enough for Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. ABIA security is currently handled by Argenbright Security, slammed Nov. 8 in a front-page New York Times story titled, "The Leader in Airport Security, and in Lapses." The article said a recent incident at Chicago O'Hare, in which a man got past Argenbright workers with knives, mace, and other weapons, "only added to a long list of security lapses involving the company -- like hiring workers with criminal records and forging documents to cover up its failure to perform background checks."
Fatuous Pundit of the Week: Tuesday morning in the Statesman, opposite William Safire's frothing for a new war with Iraq (he should stick to pop lexicography) was this gem of journalistic groveling from the Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker: "Say what you will about George W. Bush, he has suffused America once again with goodness. Evil doesn't stand a chance."
Funeralgate drew to a close last week when former Texas Funeral Service Commission Executive Director Eliza May settled for $195,000 plus legal expenses, ending her lawsuit against funeral conglomerate Service Corp. International, George W. Bush, and Attorney General John Cornyn.
In an unprecedented move, last weekend's presidential radio address was delivered by the First Lady rather than the big government cheese himself. Condemning the "brutal degradation" and repression of women under the Taliban, Laura Bush pledged administration support for women's rights in Afghanistan. The First Lady made no mention of whether a similar effort will be made to help women in America suffering under the Southern Baptist Church.
While other media firms have cut staff, Emmis Communications Corp. -- the Indianapolis-based owner of Texas Monthly -- has cut pay, sort of. The checks of 2,500 Emmis employees, including Monthly staffers, will be cut by 10%, replaced by the equivalent in company stock. The employees can choose to sell their shares immediately (for no commission, at market prices) for quick cash, or hang on to them and risk the vicissitudes of the market. (Emmis' stock has dropped 46% in the past year.)
Citing her young son's toxic mold-related health problems, $32 million woman Melinda Ballard has withdrawn from a proposed run for the seat currently held by Rep. Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs) next year. Ballard got her millions after a state judge upheld the verdict against Farmers Insurance Group, which Ballard sued for neglect of a water damage claim that caused mold to spread throughout her family's home. The jury also found that the company committed fraud in handling the claim.
In keeping with its image-enhancement agenda, Stratus Properties has agreed to a series of stakeholder meetings with environmental and neighborhood leaders. In theory, the collaborative process is designed to give local activists a voice in planning the 1,200-acre Circle C development, for which Stratus seeks city approval. The first of four meetings was held Tuesday night as the Chronicle went to press; two small group meetings are planned for Nov. 26 and 29, and a final meeting is set for Dec. 5 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Despite a Texas Dept. of Health order to halt White Egret Farms' cheese-making process, customers made their way to the Webberville Road farm this week to pick up their all-natural Thanksgiving turkeys. A Dec. 12 state administrative hearing will determine whether health violations cited by the TDH -- and which White Egret Farms denies -- hold up.
In a Reuters story about the Putin Texas Tour: "National Security Council aide Dan Fried taught [National Security Advisor Condoleeza] Rice how to do a Texas polka dance called the 'Cotton-Eyed Joe.'" The polka?
The Nov. 7 Flagpole weekly (Athens, Ga.) lists a performance by a band called George W. Bush & the Texas Death Machine. GWBTDM describe themselves as a "local 5-piece playing MC5 and Stooges-influenced punkabilly." Does not say if the lead singer has trouble pronouncing the lyrics or if D.C.-area punk rockers the Dick Army will open the show.