Some important things could have been resolved at today's Metro board meeting, particularly the absence of a contract between Metro and an outside company to design and build four proposed light-rail lines, the cornerstone of future mass transit in Houston.
Instead, we got wife-beating.
It started when anti-Metro-zealot Tom Bazan told the board that he thought it was discriminating against poor people and minorities by minimizing bus routes in favor of rail. Board member Bishop James Dixon told Bazan that Metro would continue bus services, and he also asked Bazan and all citizens to address the board with a gentler tone.
"I can handle my wife inquiring, but the accusation shuts me down. I don't accuse her, I inquire," Dixon said, drawing laughs with his domestic metaphor. "We want to see you as allies, not adversaries. That's all I'm saying."
"Have you stopped abusing your wife?" Bazan asked. The laughing stopped.
"I've never abused my wife, never," Dixon said as Chairman David Wolff tried to interrupt. "Hold on, hold on, hold on. You crossed the line. No, no, no, I need to retract that. I'll never abuse my wife and don't ever say that."
"I was referring to the transit dependent bus riders..."
"That's not my wife," Dixon yelled. "I used an analogy."
"Well I was just making a joke in regards..."
"It's not a joke and you don't do that Mr. Bazan," Dixon said. "Don't joke like that, please. You'll see another side of me: James Dixon, not the Bishop."
Several of the board members jumped in and tried to steer the meeting back to the general mobility fund or Metro's debt, and Bazan headed out the door. When the board started voting on agenda items, Dixon left to track down Bazan.
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Hair Balls caught up with Dixon outside, and he told us, "No, I don't want to talk about that, but the conclusion is that we love each other."
The all-important contract was discussed briefly. Metro has been trying to find a "facility provider" since summer 2006, originally negotiating with a company that backed out of the deal in April of last year. Metro has been trying to strike a deal with Parsons Transportation Group for about eight months.
Wolff said that he couldn't comment on the contract because he hadn't read it thoroughly, but he added that he expects it to be approved at a special hearing on March 5.
-- Paul Knight