Punk'd!

Graffiti artists get their moment to shine on camera

Walk behind the Leopard Lounge clothing store on Westheimer and you may be in for a surprise.

If you're lucky enough to stroll in just the right spot -- the spot, say, a graffiti artist or an illegal dumper may use to indulge his muse -- you'll hear a stern voice blaring from a loudspeaker, "This is the Houston Police Department. Your picture has just been taken. Leave now."

During which, of course, you'll look up at the loudspeaker, and at that moment you'll see a flash.

To view our version of Jordy Tollett's Almost Wikipedia page, Click
Here.
To view our version of Jordy Tollett's Almost Wikipedia page, Click Here.

You can't be sure whether you've had your picture taken or not -- HPD has set up an undisclosed number of dummy cameras in addition to the 20 that actually work. But chances are your mug's been captured by Houston's finest.

Not that officers are waiting tensely for the cameras to go off so they can leap into the Graffiti Mobile to nab the evildoer.

"They primarily serve as a deterrent," says HPD spokeswoman Johanna Abad.

Still, in the weeks that the camera has been up behind Poison Girl, it hasn't been limited to simply startling folks wandering around the parking lot.

"From the photos they get, they make 'Have You Seen' posters to distribute throughout the community," Abad says. "And very often they get license plates."

Abad couldn't say how many arrests have resulted from the cameras, but said the department considers the program to have been "very successful" in fighting graffiti.

All we gotta say is, if the bathroom lines at nearby Poison Girl get too long, you probably should rethink that "just go outside" idea.

Still Free

It's been almost four years since colorful former Precinct 7 Constable Perry Wooten was convicted of theft by a public servant and sentenced to five years in prison. So with good behavior, he should be getting out soon, right?

Wrong -- he hasn't even started his time in TDCJ.

Last week a divided panel of the 13th Court of Appeals was the latest to reject Wooten's argument that prosecutors unfairly excluded two blacks from his jury panel. Members of the 13th court took their sweet time coming to that decision, though, and by the time the Court of Criminal Appeals rules on the issue it could be deep into 2007.

If the CCA upholds the conviction, any further appeals in the federal system will have to be done from prison.

Which might be tough for Wooten, according to his lawyer, Brian Wice.

"Perry Wooten, the way he dresses he makes Calvin Murphy look like a Brooks Brothers model," Wice says. "I don't think prison gray is his color."

Championship Crowds

The Conference USA championship game December 1 ended in a joyous on-field celebration for Cougar fans, but the night began as something of a mess.

The C-USA game attracted the biggest crowd in Robertson Stadium history -- almost 32,000 showed up -- and it came not on a weekend, but on a school night with classes and final exams going on, and with events at the theater and art buildings.

It was likely the biggest traffic challenge the UH police department has faced, and some ticket holders paid the price. As game time approached, long lines of cars sat unmoving in front of lots that were already filled. Eventually fans ignored the few signs directing them to lots and parked wherever they could, even if it meant long treks across campus.

"Parts of it moved better than we thought it would and parts of it didn't," says UH police chief Malcolm Davis. More commuter students than predicted simply stayed on campus for the game, he said, meaning lots that UHPD thought would be relatively empty at game time were pretty full.

The game was delayed for 15 minutes, so most fans were in their seats at kickoff.

Davis, a UH alum and football fan, has one way of improving matters: "Hopefully," he says, "this will become a yearly event."

And, in case you're wondering, UH fans are not like those from West Virginia or Ohio State -- no couches or cars were burned in the wake of the win. Only a few scattered arrests, "for the usual foolishness," were made, Davis says.

Almost Wikipedia

Jordy Tollett, the head of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, is a Houston legend. Mayors come and go, but the smooth-talking Tollett abides, shrugging off any controversy that comes his way. Taking potential clients to strip clubs? Getting caught boozing at noon? Tollett’s bulletproof. Mayor Bill White wants him gone and twisted arms at GHCVB to make them search for a new president when Tollett’s term expires in February. The board agreed — and then invited Tollett to reapply. The man simply cannot be killed. But that shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who’s read his bio on the most trusted information source on the web, Wikipedia. Or at least our version of Wikipedia. To view the graphic, Click Here.

 
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