Chuck Rosenthal on trial, Metro Q Cards and a Scandal Scorecard

The Great Deleter takes the stand

Houstonians had been eagerly awaiting the federal court hearing where Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal would try to explain why he shouldn't be held in contempt for deleting thousands of e-mails subpoenaed as evidence.

The event didn't disappoint, if the report of our observer is any indication.

No final decision had been made by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt before we went to press, but that hasn't stopped us from making some rulings of our own.

DA Chuck Rosenthal attracts a crowd.
Paul Knight
DA Chuck Rosenthal attracts a crowd.

Best Imitation of Kelly Siegler: Plaintiff's attorney Lloyd Kelley. Siegler, of course, is the highly dramatic prosecutor who does things in court like tying up colleagues and pretending to stab them, so the jury can get some idea of what the apparently hard-to-imagine process of tying someone up and stabbing them looks like. (She's also running to replace Rosenthal; we can't wait for the campaign ads.)

Kelley channeled his inner Siegler perfectly: shouting, waving his arms, asking ridiculous questions and referring to himself as a "crazy Irishman." Harris County prosecutor Scott Durfee, called as a witness, seemed almost in tears as he asked Hoyt to get Kelley to stop shouting at him.

Least-Needed Mental Image: Quanell X's description of the situation, in a speech from the courthouse steps. He spoke of "that dirty devil" Rosenthal in his county office, looking at pornography, "massaging" himself with one hand and then shaking the hands of black preachers with the other. Which means Rosenthal is left-handed, we guess. Not to mention he seems like a considerate sort, what with not using the same hand for both the porno and the preachers.

Least Convincing Excuse: Durfee, when explaining how he discovered on November 21 that the e-mails were missing but waited five days to tell his boss Rosenthal: "I realized it was going to ruin my holiday, and I didn't want to do the same to Mr. Rosenthal."

Now that's thoughtfulness. Or maybe Durfee was just afraid Rosenthal would shake his hand.

Queue Card

Metro has been rolling out its new Q Card, which looks like a ­credit card and is replacing things like day passes and other special offers.

After March 31, there will be only two ways to pay a Metro fare: cash or the Q Card. And you only get free transfers with the Q.

You also, according to Metro critics, end up paying higher fares with the Q, but the argument involves a lot of hair-­splitting over free rides and transfers — not to mention math — so we're taking a pass.

We went to the Downtown Transit Center to get a card recently. And immediately turned around when we discovered a line that would have had jaws dropping at a DPS license office.

Maybe it's just us, though: "Most people seem okay with the wait," says Metro spokesperson Raequel Roberts.

The transit agency's adding staff, but it's also doing something much more important, as described on Metro's blog: "Three angels draped in red vests weaved their way through the crowd, each with a bright smile and sparkling eyes. Call them the Ask Me queens."

Uh, no thanks. We don't recall ever calling anyone an "Ask Me Queen," but we're guessing it probably wouldn't go well.

Roberts says the red-vested angels are "a SWAT team" of personable employees who answer any questions that come up.

Hey, here's our attempt at being an Ask Me Queen: Unless you're getting a student or senior-citizen fare, don't go to a RideStore or transit center. We ended up hitting a Valero convenience store, and the whole thing took five minutes.

Scandalicious

What the hell happened around here? Within the past few months, Houston has become a hotbed of relatively minor but bizarre scandals: A prosecutor’s e-mail allegedly referred to blacks as Canadians; prominent contractors allegedly gave swanky gifts to city bureaucrats; the Houston Astros (not allegedly) traded for a fading shortstop the day before he became America’s second-most-famous poster boy for steroids. It’s enough to overwhelm any self-respecting citizen. Here's a scandal scorecard.

 
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