By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
2. Wilson's Pyramid Scheme. Part of Metro's public funding, as set by Houston voters, is a General Mobility Fund that sends part of Metro's sales tax revenues to the city and county to fill potholes and repair bridges and things like that. If the city repaved a road, for example, it could send the bill to Metro to cover the costs. Wilson, however, operated Metro on such a cash shortage that when the city asked for a General Mobility payment, Metro would take out a loan to cover the payment. For that specific business practice, Wilson racked up $167 million in debt. George Greanias, Metro's new president, has said that he doesn't have a solid plan to repay those loans.
1. The FTA lowers the ax on Wilson's Metro. After Wilson moved forward with plans to have CAF build test cars in Spain, despite the Federal Transit Administration's instructions against that, the FTA launched an investigation to determine if Metro violated federal "Buy American" rules. The investigation quickly expanded into Metro's entire procurement process and, really, Wilson's business practices.
The final report, issued in September, was damning. According to the FTA, Metro, because it had violated federal guidelines, would have to re-bid the rail-car contract, and $900 million in federal funds, the key to Metro's light-rail expansion, was all but gone. Metro had already paid CAF more than $40 million, and will likely face litigation from CAF because of the canceled contract. Light-rail construction had already started in parts of the city, but, because Metro won't be getting the federal cash, those projects have pretty much been abandoned. Greanias slashed Metro's budget this year by about $430 million. Wilson, of course, resigned a few months before the FTA's announcement, and, because of his contract, walked away from Metro, despite driving the agency into the ground, with a fat severance payday.
Frank Wilson: We wish we could say, "We hardly knew ye," but we're not that lucky. But congratulations on winning such a highly deserved honor. We can only take comfort in the knowledge that unlike Tom DeLay, you cannot be a repeat winner.
Musical Turkeys of the Year:
Trae the Truth and 97.9 The Box
Trae the Truth is a well-known Houston rapper who puts on a Trae Day celebration each year, often without accompanying gunfire.
The 2009 event wasn't one of those gunless ones, though. And the fireworks were only starting.
Trae and a DJ from The Box called Nnete got into an on-air tiff after Nnete criticized the crowds that go to the rapper's shows.
Trae responded with eloquence, in the song "Uptown."
Look at you with your bad-built ass, you're trash...
I guess it's understood while I'm rolling on glass
And the world hating on me like Nnete fat ass
The Box didn't take too kindly to this, and somehow all Trae songs disappeared from its playlists. DJs who played his songs at outside events also got in trouble.
Ho hum, another rapper feud, right? No. For this dispute between an overly sensitive radio station and an overly sensitive rapper was about to go to court, where Trae would attempt to create the legal precedent of forcing a radio station to play an artist's songs.
Cheering madly on the sidelines, no doubt, was Every Group Ever who had fallen victim to radio programming directors who could not appreciate true genius.
We're not sure what the suit looked like, but we assume it was pretty much like this.
Trae the Truth
STATEMENT OF FACTS
1) Trae is a gifted, insightful rapper.
The Box plays rap music.
Recently, The Box has stopped playing Trae's music.
STATEMENT OF LAW
1) In bringing this action, Trae acknowledges that his music is so fan-fucking-tastic that the only reason it might not be played on the radio is because The Box is run by a bunch of whiny-ass bitches. (Note: Whiny-ass bitches are different from bad-built asses, although they are not mutually exclusive.)
Even assuming arguendo that The Box might find Trae's music not good enough, plaintiff would argue that there's no way they could do that because his music is so fucking tight.
Okay, assume — big, big, big assumption — that The Box doesn't like the latest from Trae. Case law is clear that quality does not matter. To wit:
a) The Box's action is undeniably in violation of such rulings as Metallica Fans v. St. Anger and Mick Jagger's Solo Career v. Rolling Stone Magazine. In the former case, Metallica fans sued over being forced to buy the St. Anger album, which is universally regarded as "a piece of crap" (See U.S. Supreme Court, Critics v. Hetfield, et al.); the court ruled the suit to be moot, seeing as the plaintiffs were Metallica fans and nothing could stop them from buying it anyway.
In the latter case, Mick Jagger's Solo Career (MJSC) sued Rolling Stone magazine, demanding that the magazine "take seriously" MJSC. The magazine argued that MJSC "had to be kidding" and "Have you actually listened to this mannered crap?" to no avail. The court ruled that the magazine's ludicrously over-the-top critical praise of late-era Stones albums extended by default to MJSC, which was awarded a cover and an exclusive interview billed as "Mick Jagger Finally Opens Up" or some such thing.