Beyond City Limits
Longevity counts in Round Rock, where the City Council last week appointed Jim Nuse -- who's been with the city for 19 years -- as city manager, replacing Bob Bennett, who's held the job for 23 years. Nuse was the only in-house finalist of the four who turned up in Round Rock's nationwide search. -- M.C.M.
The ACLU of Texas has released "Too Far Off Task," its report documenting problems with the state's 45 controversial regional narcotics task forces. Despite reforms promoted by Gov. Rick Perry, the task forces remain "scandal-ridden" and have outlived their usefulness, the report claims. Authored by ACLU Police Accountability Project Director Scott Henson, the report recommends abolishing the task forces and using grant money on pursuits other than prosecuting and incarcerating the low-level drug offenders the task forces frequently target. -- L.A.
The consistently reactionary Texas Court of Criminal Appeals shocked Naked City, among others, last week by handing down not one but two decisions in favor of the convicted. In a Jasper Co. case, the CCA overturned the death sentence of John Milton Herrin, saying the state had not proven that he had killed his victim in the commission of another crime (the basic requirement for capital murder). And in a Dallas case, a defendant who produced evidence of his innocence was exonerated -- even though he had pled guilty to the sexual-assault charge. Both decisions were narrow ones (6-3 in the Herrin case, 5-4 in the other). Presiding Judge Sharon Keller voted in the minority both times. -- M.C.M.
Where Trent Lott goes, Texas Democratic Party Chair Molly Beth Malcolm will not follow. Malcolm, under pressure to resign from Dems aggrieved at the party's string of losses under her leadership, fired off a salvo this week to party members, arguing that now is not the time for infighting. "Our hard work during the four years I have served as chairwoman was not reflected at the polls in November, but it has helped put us in a position to regenerate, rebuild, and reconnect with Texas voters," she wrote. Such efforts, Malcolm says, are critical if the Dems are to provide any meaningful opposition to the GOP's Capitol agenda. The state executive committee, when it meets next month, will vote on resolutions calling for Malcolm's departure -- supported by, among others, former land commissioner and 1998 governor candidate Garry Mauro. -- M.C.M.
It's spreading: Inspired by Austin, local merchants in a certain California town are doing a hot trade in "Keep Santa Cruz Weird" bumper stickers. Of course, "weird" is a relative term. The battle du jour in Santa Cruz is whether city ordinance should be "tightened" to keep panhandlers and street musicians 14 feet, rather than 10 feet, from bus benches and doorways; the "Rainbow City" also recently deputized the operators of a local medical-marijuana farm raided by federal agents. But as one supporter of the campaign notes, today's Santa Cruz "is a different weird. It's an in-your-face weird. Before, everyone was weird at home. Now they're weird on the street." -- M.C.M.
Apparently the Big Brothers at the Pentagon's controversial Information Awareness Office got a little goosey after Matt Smith, a writer at SF Weekly, printed the personal home contact info for the IAO director (and convicted Iran-Contra felon), Adm. John Poindexter, and other Brothers. Shortly thereafter, report the Web gurus at the Memory Hole, the bios of the IAO honchos were removed from the agency's site. But they've been archived at www.thememoryhole.org, along with Poindexter's home address and phone number (10 Barrington Fare, Rockville, MD 20850; 301/424-6613) and links to satellite photos of Poindexter's home. -- J.S.
Obviously, George W. Bush is a spoiled brat who never got the parental discipline he needed. But you can help make up for George Sr. and Barbara's failings at www.spankbush.com, a Web site that offers you the virtual experience of spanking Dubya in a variety of ways (hand, paddle, or a, um, less traditional option) and for a variety of reasons ("And this is for wasting billions of tax dollars on Star Wars instead of fixing problems here on Earth ..."). The site was created by TrueMajority.com, an activist organization founded by Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's) that monitors Congress. SpankBush.com also invites you to send a letter to Bush telling him exactly why he deserves a good smacking. At press time, Naked City was not able to confirm if threatening the president with a spanking violates federal law, but we may be getting a call from the Secret Service soon. -- Lee Nichols