2007 Turkeys of the Year

Priscilla Slade is the biggest gobbler of them all

a) "Man, I never thought I'd be able to dump that thing off on somebody"

b) "Frankly, I thought I'd discovered the gravy train of all gravy trains"

c) "It's lovely, and it's a huge seller in our Upper-Class Black line"

d) "It was appropriate, because she was such a strong woman"

3) Slade spent $26,000 of TSU money on:

a) A scholarship for deserving low-income students

b) A donation to improve TSU's crumbling infrastructure

c) A sensible VW Beetle

d) A bedroom suite

4) Slade ran up a $100,000 tab at Scott Gertner's SkyBar. This shows:

a) Scott Gertner knows how to treat a lady

b) Slade knows how to put the "fun" in "fund-raising"

c) SkyBar was one overpriced place

d) All of the above

5) Slade spent $13,000 of TSU money on season tickets for the Rockets and Texans. As a result:

a) The Houston Astros fired their liaison to the black community

b) Some low-income youngsters enjoyed outrageously expensive seats, because Slade donated them all to the Boys & Girls Club

c) TSU raised so much money that UT got jealous

d) Slade watched a lot of shitty hoops and football

6) Pilates lessons and "spa days" — charged to the university or not?

a) No way — Someone making $270,000 could easily afford that out of her own pocket

b) No way — What possible link could there be between Pilates and promoting TSU?

c) No way — Jesus, isn't there anything that can't be charged to TSU?

d) Sounds fine to me. If I'm Priscilla Slade.

7) While Slade was lavishing herself with school funds, tuition and fees at TSU:

a) Dropped by 10 percent, just because the school was obviously swimming in dough

b) Dropped by 5 percent, because Slade got a really, really good deal on those Pilates lessons

c) Increased only slightly, because spa days are expensive

d) Increased by 21.5 percent in 2006

8) Slade lived in a 6,000-square-foot home in the ritzy Memorial area. She told TSU trustees that she couldn't live nearer campus because:

a) It's so damn depressing to look at

b) The "right" people don't live there

c) No light-rail service is available for her commute

d) She might be attacked by a disgruntled TSU student (Really)

9) That luxurious Memorial home was eventually bought by:

a) Friends of Priscilla Slade, a political-action committee dedicated to righting outrageous wrongs

b) The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Party!

c) Slade's Pilates trainer

d) Houston Texans defensive lineman Mario Williams

10) At her trial, defense attorney Mike DeGeurin told jurors:

a) "A few hundred thousand here, a few hundred thousand there, what's the big deal?"

b) "Look, I don't believe how lax the oversight is at TSU either, but it is what it is"

c) "If it's high-priced shit, you must acquit"

d) "She was not going to go third-rate"

Answers: All (d).

1-4 correct: You clearly have no concept of what it takes to run a chronically cash-strapped university.

5-7 correct: You may have what it takes to become TSU president, but are you really thinking big enough?

8-10 correct: Welcome, Mr./Ms. ­President.

Judicial Turkey of the Year: Sharon Keller

Sharon Keller, chief justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals, is a busy woman. Try to keep her waiting, and you do so at your own peril. Literally.

Keller was sitting in her office September 25; maybe she was playing Tetris, maybe she was searching eBay for funny death-penalty-related stuff, we can't be sure. One thing we can be sure of is that she couldn't wait to head home.

Only one thing was detaining her: Some mentally retarded guy was about to be executed, and his lawyers were bitching about it. And she had to sit around until the clerk's office closed at 5 p.m. to see if their bitching would turn into an actual legal petition she would have to glance at before rejecting.

But, as Houston lawyer David Dow relates, he and the lawyers putting together that petition for Death Row inmate Michael Richard were having problems with computer crashes. And when you're trying to put together ten hard copies of a 100-page petition, computer crashes can be unhelpful.

(And before you go saying, "Well, why'd they wait until the last minute?" you should know the appeal they were preparing was based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that morning which blocked a Mississippi execution because of questions about the constitutionality of lethal injection. Which was a different angle of appeal than their original claim — the obviously irrelevant fact that Richard's lawyer had never bothered to tell the judge his client was mentally retarded.)

Dow's office called the Court of Criminal Appeals, pleading to be allowed an extra half-hour to file. According to a complaint they eventually filed with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, Keller replied, "We close at five."

Another judge on the court, Cathy Cochran, later told reporters, "There were plenty of judges here, and plenty of other personnel here. A number of judges stayed very late that evening, waiting for a filing from the defense attorney."

But while Cochran may have all the time in the world to sit around waiting for a bunch of legal gobbledygook, Sharon Keller doesn't. (Speculation that she spent the rest of the evening making jokes about "the late Michael Richard" is just that, speculation. But not crazy-ass ­speculation.)

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