By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Council meetings for the tiny city of South Houston ("Under Siege," November 12) have grown considerably shorter since Mayor Cipriano Romero was impeached on November 14. Romero had been accused of failing to sign invoices approved by city council, of misrepresenting the city's views before a local water board, and of choosing not to enforce a decorum ordinance during meetings. But other, darker reasons for the ouster seem just as likely: Romero had fought what he saw as impropriety and corruption on the part of the council.
As for the former mayor, 27-year-old Romero says he can't afford the $6,000 necessary to appeal the decision and doesn't want to see the city spend thousands on legal fees to fight him in court (he estimates that South Houston has already spent $15,000 to impeach him). But he hasn't washed his hands of the city. He says many citizens have asked him to run for city council, and he's considering doing just that.
Like many other meetings in the South Houston saga, the impeachment proceedings were long-winded -- they lasted until 3 a.m. -- and convoluted. Angela Applebe, the wife of Morgan's Point mayor Russell Applebe, attempted to testify that South Houston City Secretary Susan Engel had told her that the council was trying to remove the mayor from office so that he could not run for re-election in May. But Applebe says objections from the opposing counsel prevented her from telling the court what Engel had said. (Shaila Dewan)
The battle between Houston's polo king and the king of Polo clothing ("The Patrón," November 19) has still not been resolved. John Goodman, owner of (and player on) the world's top-ranked polo team, was sued by Ralph Lauren for copyright infringement after Goodman began publishing POLO Magazine. The case went to trial before Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in November. Milloy is scheduled to issue a ruling on January 28. (Randall Patterson)
When told that Bob and Clint Norris had accused him of harassing their street-corner windshield repair enterprise ("Risky Business," November 26), Dream & Bros. Hand Car Wash owner Afis Olajuwon claimed that the Norrises were simply trying to enrich themselves by associating with Olajuwon's famous name. What actually happened in the story's aftermath was somewhat less profitable.
"It hurt us pretty bad," says Bob Norris, "but we knew that was gonna happen."
City officials have moved the Norrises off their accustomed corner at San Felipe and Bancroft, and while the Norrises were operating near a sports bar at Westheimer and Beltway 8 at press time, they didn't anticipate staying long before having to find another spot.
But finding a good one may be more difficult now that so much attention has been paid to the case. The Houston Police Department's automotive repair licensing division says that the Norrises will need a permanent place of business and a permanent structure in order to renew their present license, which expires at the end of December.
"I don't know what's going on," says a frustrated Bob Norris. "All I know is, they've changed all the rules and regulations. It's all really screwed up."
Since the Norrises can't afford a permanent structure, they're looking to possibly affiliate themselves with an area car wash and to operate under its automotive repair facility license. Chances remain good, however, that such a deal will not be struck with Olajuwon's business. (Brad Tyer)
Shortly after the Press outlined how the trucking industry and various state officials had conspired to kill a proposed weigh station in Pasadena ("Semi Safe," December 3), the Texas Department of Public Safety audited a local trucking company for compliance with safety rules and regulations. Ordinarily, the state conducts such audits only under certain conditions: when a company truck is involved in a fatality or accidents resulting in injuries, or when a company's rigs are taken off the road for serious violations after an inspection. Or, less frequently, when someone files a complaint.
But the company in question, Dorsett Brothers Concrete, had an almost spotless track record. "They're one of the safest trucking companies in the state," confirms Pasadena Sergeant Loni Robinson, who heads the city's truck safety enforcement team and was the point man in the thwarted weigh station effort. Robinson suggests that Dorsett Brothers, which supports Pasadena's program and has been critical of industry attempts to weaken safety regulations, has been targeted for its views.
Dorsett Brothers safety director Mike Nall doesn't accuse DPS of retaliation, but he can't understand why the company was audited -- for the third time in three years. "It's strange that there's concrete companies all over Houston that have never had a compliance review, and this is my third one," Nall says.
DPS Captain Robert Burroughs, who heads the compliance review section, did not return phone calls from the Press.(Bob Burtman)
To read the original Press stories, go to www.houstonpress.com.