The Tomball Area Dominates Texas Monthly's Worst Legislators List

Texas Monthly's eagerly anticipated list of Best & Worst Legislators is out, and one thing is clear: Tomball and its environs are a sticking cesspit of ineptitude and hackery.

Two of the top ten bad legislators on the list (a list which is generally accepted to be nonpartisan) are from the town north of here; a third is from The Woodlands.

Not bad, northern suburbs! Fully 30 percent of the list!!

The Tomball "winners":

Allen Fletcher, Republican --

A freshman has to be awful, really awful, to be named a Worst. Fletcher cleared that high bar with room to spare. There are two things that even the rawest rookie must not do. One is to bring shame upon the body. This Fletcher did when he and several business associates became ensnared in a stock-manipulation investigation initiated by the Harris County district attorney's office, which later turned the probe over to the U.S. Department of Justice....The other no-no is neglecting your homework before you try to pass legislation. Fletcher, an ex-cop, offered a bill that he described as "trying to catch the bad guys for identity theft." Good idea, but a keen-eyed member noticed that it had been drafted so that it actually deleted the laws.

Debbie Riddell, Republican --

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way" goes the adage. To these directives, Riddle adds a fourth: Provide comic relief. "Where did this idea come from?" she famously asked about public education in 2003. "It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell"....Through some inexplicable miscalculation, she was named chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal Justice. The top priority of legislative budget writers has been to fund programs that allow nonviolent inmates to be released, thereby alleviating the need to build new prisons. But Riddle shifted money from these programs to items that weren't requested, such as $20 million for new cars for the Department of Public Safety.

And from The Woodlands, Tommy Williams, Republican -- :

"Be gentle," he said, as he sat in his Capitol office a few days before sine die, telegraphing his tacit understanding that he would be on the Worst list for his contribution to the deadly voter ID debacle....In the final week of the session, grief consumed the Capitol for all the waste of work. And let us add: waste of talent. Williams possesses both natural leadership abilities and a bright mind. In 2007 we acknowledged this by naming him to the Best list. This year he squandered those attributes for partisan reasons--much to the state's detriment.

Also making the Worst list -- Mario Gallegos, a Democrat. (Somehow not from the Tomball area!!) Texas Monthly said "Considering his recent health ordeal--and his track record in Austin--we believe Gallegos deserves the same, and more: a long, happy retirement. Soon."

Local legislators on the Best list included Democrat Craig Eiland from Galveston, Republican Rob Eissler from The Woodlands (TW represent!), Democrat Senfronia Thompson and Republican John Zerwas of Richmond.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly