By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Highlights from Hair Balls
It's just a snapshot, but if a new poll is to be believed, Texans are nearly as unified in their desire to vote on gambling legalization as they are in loathing Lance Armstrong. A survey released by Let Texans Decide, an organization leading the movement to allow Texans to vote on the issue, shows that the state's registered voters prefer the right to choose by a more than five-to-one margin, a striking margin in a potential march toward a vote.
According to the results of the poll — conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research January 27-30 among 1,001 registered Texans — some 82 percent of Texans support allowing a vote on a constitutional amendment regarding gambling.
Considering the sort of legislation Let Texans Decide has been pushing recently — they've cited, consistently, that Texas hemorrhages $2.5 billion in gambling revenue annually to neighboring states — it may seem unremarkable that they've found Texans preferring such wholesale democracy to allowing legislators to choose for them.
"There were really no surprises," said Eric Bearse, a spokesman for Let Texans Decide. "The key point is that across all demographics, all incomes and all political persuasions, Texans are united in a desire to decide the issue of expanded gaming for themselves."
However, associations aside, a few interesting numbers on the state of gambling legislation came to light:
• Gender discrepancies remain the strongest indicator yet seen in preferences. While both genders poll above 50 percent, women seem far more reluctant than their male counterparts to place a potential amendment on the next ballot, with their support lagging nearly ten points behind men's.
• Houston, this bastion of amoralism, came in with the highest proportion of registered voters (85 percent) at least willing to see such an amendment on the ballot. West Texas, meanwhile, saw fewer than three-quarters (74 percent) willing to fancy a vote. Seems some of New Orleans's heathenish lifestyles continued to seep westward.
• Texans love Vegas — or at least slightly more than they'll opt for entertainment in Oklahoma. A plurality of registered voters noted that they'd traveled to Nevada to frequent a casino, with Louisiana (36 percent), Oklahoma (20 percent) and New Mexico (11 percent) rounding out the travel costs.
• Alas, there was no question pertaining to how Texans would actually vote should a potential amendment finally come forward. "We're just trying to keep it simple and focus on a basic principle," said Bearse. "We'll leave the specific language to the legislators."
As one of the few states without Class III gambling, Texas provides the largest prize to the nation's pro-gambling forces and may be inching closer to joining the rest of the nation's vice-laden lifestyles.
"Texas is a state that has long valued individual choice and freedom," Bearse said. "And, quite frankly, we've never embraced the nanny state, and we believe this should at least be put to a vote."
Ex-Dr. Brown's High Life
Buys mansion, finds in-flight trouble.
Wow — erstwhile hand surgeon and wife-beater Michael Brown oughta sell DVDs on how to do "Bankruptcy the Brown Way" — a month before he filed for Chapter 11 protection in a Florida federal court, he bought an $8.3 million Miami Beach waterfront mansion from former Florida Marlins shortstop Edgar Renteria.
Well, to be clear, Michael Brown didn't buy the estate, because that would look weird, wouldn't it? No, an entity called MG Brown Co. LLC bought it, according to Miami-Dade County Clerk records. The Miami Herald reported that it set a real estate record for the tony Allison Beach area of Biscayne Bay.
Per the Herald, "The home boasts an expansive 200 feet of waterfront on Biscayne Bay...Amenities include an infinity pool, a wine cellar, a movie theater and an elevator. The house is on a 25,682-square-foot lot with a private dock."
The Sotheby's representative told the paper, "We're finding the trophy properties are really performing the best."
According to court records, MG Brown LLC, which lists Michael Brown as sole member and manager, took out a $4.1 million mortgage for the property from something called — for real — Bank of Internet USA.
MG Brown LLC has also been gobbling up other Miami real estate; in August 2012, it took out a $4.2 million mortgage for a penthouse. The signature on the papers belongs to Ray von Proctor, listed as MG Brown's president. (Apparently, von Proctor stepped down sometime between August and December.)
The company hired a chichi Miami interior designer to deck out the place, but since money's tight, it apparently neglected to pay her. The interior designer had to put a lien on the property, and the company eventually paid the $60,000 balance on the $546,672.83 total.
In other Brown news, the former TV-ad star was arrested for allegedly choking flight attendants and threatening to expose the ol' Dr. B penis to passengers on a British Airways flight January 2. A judge has also issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he missed a hearing in his latest divorce case.