If there's one place we expect to be safe from Sarah Palin and her reality TV exploits, it's a courtroom in a federal courthouse during a hearing about red light cameras. We are wrong.
Sarah Palin's Alaska received at least three mentions at a hearing earlier today, starting with David Furlow, a Thompson & Knight attorney representing Paul Kubosh, telling federal Judge Lynn Hughes that he gets information about Alaska from the show.
That -- obviously -- prompted David Feldman, Houston's city attorney, to inform the judge that he, in fact, does not watch Sarah Palin's Alaska. Hughes summed up the whole thing with a dad joke: "Isn't 'reality TV' a contradiction?"
The majority of the hearing, of course, wasn't about Palin, but a lot of it dealt with Alaska. That's because Furlow tried to convince Hughes that Kubosh should be allowed to "intervene" in ongoing lawsuits between the city and red light camera company American Traffic Solutions over the validity of November's Proposition 3 vote.
Furlow argued that Kubosh, the driving force behind Citizens Against Red Light Cameras, should be part of the hearings to give a voice to all the Houstonians who don't want red light cameras. The city, he said, might be less than enthusiastic to righteously defend the election results because it wants, and needs, the revenue from red light camera violations.
During much of his arguement, Furlow cited a Supreme Court ruling on a federal lawsuit in Alaska.
Hughes didn't seem to buy any of it, because, one, he told Furlow that he didn't know much about the Alaskan Constitution but didn't think the facts of the case were parallel with the red light camera lawsuit, and two, he didn't like the idea of needing what amounts to a concerned citizen in his courtroom to identify the city "falling on its sword."
"I deal with governments with some regularity," Hughes said quite sarcastically.
And if anyone hoped these lawsuits would hash out the merits of red light cameras, it's not going to happen. Hughes continually steered the conversation away from discussion of the cameras and back to the lawsuit, which deals only with the validity of the election in the first place.
"Whether red light cameras are a good idea or bad idea, that's not the question," Hughes said. "If I could invalidate laws because they're a bad idea, I'd remain extremely busy."
Hughes didn't rule on Furlow's "motion to intervene," but said he'd do so by Monday. After today's hearing, we give the intervention a one- or two-percent chance of happening.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.