By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Bomb That Mosque!!
KTRH host hopes for violence
By Richard Connelly
Michael Berry, the former city councilman who hosts a talk show on KTRH each afternoon, has had a federal complaint filed against him by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
For some reason, they don't like the fact that when a caller to Berry's show supported building a mosque near Ground Zero in New York, Berry responded: "No, no, Tony, you can't build a mosque at the site of 9/11. No, you can't. No, you can't. And I'll tell you this — if you do build a mosque, I hope somebody blows it up...I hope the mosque isn't built, and if it is, I hope it's blown up, and I mean that."
(This came after his first question, which was whether the accented guy's name was really Tony.)
Berry has said on his blog that he went too far: "While I stand by my disagreement of the building of the mosque on the site, I SHOULD NOT have said, 'I hope someone blows it up.' That was dumb, and beneath me. I was trying to show "Tony" how much I opposed his opinion, but I went too far. For that, I apologize to my listeners."
He tells Hair Balls the same thing.
"The guy taunted me, and I am passionate that building a mosque on that site is an affront to the families of victims," he told us. (His blog, by the way, also states, "I did NOT advocate bombing any mosque," which is parsing Bill Clinton would be proud of. Berry's apparently not familiar with "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?")
Berry says that his comment was a reaction to the over-the-top comments the caller made, but it actually comes well before the caller went into shouting mode.
CAIR filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. In a press release it said: "Calls for acts of violence against houses of worship must never be tolerated or excused," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "We ask the FCC to demonstrate that incitement to violence is never acceptable on our nation's airwaves."
He said Berry's call to violence against an American mosque is of particular concern, coming as it does after a bombing at a mosque in Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this month.
Berry tells Hair Balls he doesn't expect us to appreciate the subtle, nuanced approach he took in the call.
"I know how this story looks before you write it," he says. "Painting me as a lunatic is too fun to pass up. I get that."
Well, when you make it so easy...
"I Thought She Was 18" Won't Work
By John Nova Lomax
Last May, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission decided that some minors in Bastrop County might have been having a little too much fun. They apparently decided it was high time to conduct a sting operation.
One of the TABC's tried-and-true methods is to send a real-life minor to various retail outlets in search of alcohol. In the Bastrop case, this decoy was a 16-year-old girl, and five-year veteran TABC agent Joe Chavez, then 40, was to be her, um, handler.
The girl would later claim that things got off on the wrong foot before the investigation even started.
The day before their undercover mission, she says that Chavez texted a sexually explicit photograph of himself to her.
Worse was yet to come, the girl has alleged.
She claims that after a few hours of attempted alcohol purchases, Chavez decided to round out the workday by sexually assaulting her in his official state vehicle.
She reported the alleged incident within a few weeks, and Chavez was originally arrested by the Texas Rangers last June. He was first suspended from the agency without pay, has since resigned and was indicted yesterday by state investigators. In the wake of these allegations, the TABC temporarily suspended all underage undercover investigations until they could complete a review of their procedures.
Chavez is now being prosecuted by the state Office of the Attorney General (rather than the Bastrop County DA) and is in a heap of shit. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to 20 years in prison for each count. Online solicitation of a minor and abuse of official capacity are third-degree felonies punishable by up to a $10,000 fine and two to ten years in prison. Official oppression is a Class A misdemeanor.
DOING IT DAILY
There is a ton of new stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you're only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or "/rocks" or "/eating") and under "Tools" on the top-right side of the page, use the "categories" drop-down menu to find these stories:
It was a week dealing with bad judgment calls. We listed sports' five most terrible officiating calls after the atrocious Celtics-technical debacle...only to have the perfect-game fiasco happen two days later. We amended the list. The Texans cheerleaders traveled to Japan and one blogged about the experience for us, including the part where they wielded machine guns. And we looked at the Rockets' free-agent options and encouraged them to make a big splash.