Rice flunks a geography test.
Rice flunks a geography test.

Georgia on My Mind

The Rice Village Alliance doesn't want shoppers getting lost or confused within its 12-block maze of stores and posh shops. So the group printed a slick business guide and map to help visitors navigate the area.

As for the location of the district itself, there's an illustration of the region on the map's cover, complete with a "Rice Village" stickpin accurately positioned inside the Loop.

However, Press reader Alexandra Sterling noticed some seeming inconsistencies. That loop is marked on the map as 285 -- not 610. The main interstates are I-20 and I-75. And that's definitely not Galveston to the southeast; the town's named Macon.

Yep. This is a definitive map -- of a Georgia region roughly 800 miles from southeast Texas. Illustrators merely pasted "Houston" over metro Atlanta.

"It is a good point you bring up, to make sure I look at something more closely," said Aubrey Mendonca, who was involved with the map's production for the alliance. "I really appreciate that feedback on that one. I'll definitely take this up with the graphics people."

In the meantime, Houston shoppers can just follow the cover map if they need to make that quick 12-hour dash to the store -- and take in Stone Mountain as well. -- George Flynn

Hard to Believe

It's rare enough for a local capital murder verdict to get tossed out. But how often does a federal judge say she finds a death row inmate more credible than a Harris County sheriff's detective?

Not too often. But then again, it's not too often that the detective spends his time on the witness stand wearing dark sunglasses and shaking nervously.

U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore all but called Detective Ronnie Roberts a liar in her September 26 ruling ordering a new trial for Howard Paul Guidry, convicted in a 1994 murder-for-hire.

Guidry claimed he was tricked into confessing. He says he asked for his lawyer while being interrogated and a sheriff's detective left the room and returned, falsely saying he'd checked with that lawyer and it was okay to talk. Guidry's trial attorney testified that Roberts -- the partner of the detective who left the room -- confirmed the story to them in a 1995 conversation in the chambers of state district judge Joe Kegans.

In a December hearing before Gilmore, Roberts testified he never confirmed the story. But he apparently wasn't too convincing.

"The judge looked like she was kind of visibly repulsed -- he's got these black sunglasses on and his hand was shaking," says one of Guidry's current attorneys, Robert Rosenberg. His other attorney, Kenneth Williams, described Roberts as nervous, "pretty arrogant and disrespectful." (Lawyers for the state attorney general's office, who are appealing the ruling, refused to comment.)

"Having observed his demeanor, the Court explicitly finds Roberts' testimony concerning both Guidry's confession and the conversation in the state judge's chambers not to be credible," Gilmore wrote in her ruling. (Guidry, on the other hand, "appeared to be a credible witness.")

Roberts wears the sunglasses for health reasons, his partner told the judge later in the hearing.

Lieutenant Robert Van Pelt, a sheriff's spokesman, says the department is waiting to receive a copy of Gilmore's ruling before making any decision on whether to start any perjury investigation. Roberts couldn't be reached for comment. -- Richard Connelly


It looks like word is finally getting around through the media about the new license plate law that went into effect September 1. That's the one that says, in less-than-certain language, that you can be ticketed for up to $200 for obscuring the readability of the license number or state name with a frame. (Readability, of course, is in the eye of the beholder.)

Still, coverage of the new law came only after weeks of rumors and misinformation, largely by e-mail, said Tom Vinger, Department of Public Safety spokesman, who had been flooded by calls from the public wanting to know what was going on.

"It's out of control -- sweeping the land like wildfire," said Vinger, adding, "We're afraid to issue a press release thinking it might make matters worse." Huh? He noted that DPS had mentioned it in a previous press release from August (sandwiched between new codes on drag racing and human trafficking).

It's probably not a good sign, either, when Snopes, an urban legends reference Web site, has to clarify your state legislation. -- Michael Serazio

Bud's Bill

Bud Adams broke the collective heart of the Bayou City when he hauled his Houston Oilers to Tennessee after the '96 season. He'd claimed he tried his best to broker a decent stadium deal with Houston officials. Local leaders said he'd caused them to pump $52 million in improvements into the Astrodome to keep the team here, only to chase after a sweeter franchise deal elsewhere.

That feud continued, even to the point of Adams symbolically shooting the finger at his old nemesis, former mayor Bob Lanier, in a 2000 television interview.

And most locals blame Bud for saddling county taxpayers with what is still some $50 million in public debt on the aging Dome.

With that kind of infamous exit by Adams, the city of Houston certainly would never have anything to do ever again with the guy. Right? Not exactly.

Houston municipal fuel needs have often drawn a bidder named Ada Resources Inc. That turns out to be a subsidiary of Houston-based Adams Resources & Energy.

And the city controller's office reports that Ada has done well with city contracts -- since 1999, taxpayers have shelled out $34.5 million to Bud's baby.

Which brings up the point: Are we underwriting his Titans every time a city vehicle tops off the tank? -- G.F.

Cough up your Hair Balls to 713-280-2480 or e-mail them to hairballs@houstonpress.com


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