Teachers' unions, Harris County politics, scams

Support the union, go to jail

Simpsons fans still revel in the late Phil Hartman's role as faded actor Troy McClure: "Hi, I'm Troy McClure — you may remember me from such TV series as Buck Henderson, Union Buster!"

These days, it seems Buck Henderson is working for the Aldine school district.

Carmen Mayorga, president of the Aldine Federation of Teachers, found this out the hard way August 14. She was trying to pass out information (and KFC chicken coupons!) to returning teachers. She ended up spending the night in Harris County jail.

In what has to be considered the most shocking development since Lindsay Lohan went back to rehab, Mayorga and the school district have differing versions of the events leading up to her jail stint. (And eventual release on a bond, she says, of just $20.)

First up, the school district: Mayorga was illegally parked on the I-45 service road in front of Aldine High, says an official statement issued by Mike Keeney, Aldine spokesman.

"As a safety precaution to other motorists and teachers who were exiting...Officer [Marty] Tobias requested Ms. Mayorga to move her car from the feeder," the statement says.

Mayorga refused, then refused to provide ID, for which she was arrested. "Ms. Mayorga did resist when Officer Tobias placed her under arrest, but no unnecessary force was applied to Ms. Mayorga during the arrest procedure," it says.

So Buck Henderson's work is done, and another socialistic, red-flag-waving Wobbly is shown justice, it seems.

Except Mayorga says that's not how things happened. August 14 was actually her second day at the school; on that day school officials apparently made teachers leave by the back exits so they wouldn't see the union reps.

She was told to move, and then, she says, the officer "comes to my car really aggressive and ugly talking to me like, 'Show me your identification! Show me your identification!'...Then I said, 'You know what? You're talking to me really ugly and I'm gonna record you so everybody can know how rude and ugly you're talking to me.' So I grab my camcorder and pushed the button and put it on. He takes it away from me, snatches it away from my hand and throws it inside my vehicle, and then he drags me outside my vehicle, you know, and pushes me against my van, one hand up and one hand down."

She says she has bruises on her thigh and knee and a cut on the middle finger of one hand. (Hmmm, the middle finger?)

She spent some time in Aldine's police station, then was taken to Harris County jail at 7 p.m., where she stayed until 8 the next morning. She was moved to three different cells throughout the night, she says.

"It was bad. People were arguing, talking about why they were there," she says. "People were eating from the trash, using the toilet in front of everyone."

Maybe. But that's what you get for trying to hand out free-chicken coupons.

Shot Across the Bow

The race for Harris County Judge isn't until next year, but already the jockeying has started. On the Democratic side, City Hall power David Mincberg is expected to run.

For the GOP, the race is shaping up to be between Ed Emmett, appointed this year to replace longtime county judge Robert Eckels, who resigned, and Harris County District Clerk Charles Bacarisse.

So it was notable recently when Bacarisse sent a routine item to Commissioners Court for approval, a request for $8,000 to spend on an annual employees' retreat in Galveston.

"It's a boondoggle trip down to Galveston," Emmett said. "Spending $8,000 to take county employees down there and miss two days of work for something called 'leadership.'"

Bacarisse fired back, indirectly. A Web site called Friends of Charles Bacarisse, which has nothing, nothing, to do with Bacarisse, blasted Emmett for what it called almost $200,000 in new staffing costs since he entered office.

GOP officials are trying to prevent a bloody primary fight, but here's hoping they fail. These guys could be ­entertaining.

Tales from the BBB

There are a million sad stories in the files of the Houston chapter of the Better Business Bureau. Well, maybe not a million, but there are quite a few. And here's one of them, Banner Grams of Houston, which apparently hates the troops as much as it does customer service.

 
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