OCTOBER 29, 2010 A Montgomery County jury
sentences a habitual drunken
driver to life in prison.
OBITUARIES | EDITORIALS | OUTLOOK | WEATHER
Might Sylvia Garcia be in trouble?
UESDAY evening, at a small gathering public works departments,
to celebrate the life of a friend who they are able to raise
mountains of campaign
had just died, a former Democratic cash from county vendors,
officeholder quietly said something that engineers and others. (Garcia
started the year with $1.7
shocked me. million and raised $577,000
up alcohol tax
“Sylvia Garcia is in Morman is so little more in 2010. Her opponent
trouble,” she said, referring known that Googling him has raised about $41,000.)
to the two-term Harris as a Commissioners Court Rick Casey By long-standing tradition,
County commissioner. candidate or as a Houston Harris County commissioners
Times are so tough for lawyer turns up no hits. have only four reasons
Democrats, she indicated, Garcia’s alleged powerful positions in Texas to leave office: They die,
that Garcia could lose to
Jack Morman, an attorney in
vulnerability stunned me
because Harris County
but also one of the most
they resign to pursue other
activities, they resign because
Survey shows In the face of a budget
shortfall that some project
the office of former County commissioner is not only Because commissioners they are indicted or they new gambling is will top $20 billion through
Attorney Michael Fleming. considered one of the most all have their own parks and Please see CASEY, Page B5
also backed in the next two years, voters
surveyed would rather slash
budget crunch higher education funding
than that of public schools,
T H E A N T H O N Y G R AV E S C A S E By PEGGY FIKAC
health care for the poor or
AU S T I N B U R E AU
Asked where they would
A U S T I N — Texas voters cut the most among the four
prefer spending cuts over new areas, 28 percent of likely vot-
revenues to balance the bud- ers targeted higher education.
get, but if money must be About the same percentage
raised, they would like to see said they would not want to
it come from higher taxes on cut from those areas at all.
alcohol and expanded gam- The telephone poll was
bling, according to a poll con- conducted Oct. 22-27 for the
ducted for the state’s largest Houston Chronicle, San An-
newspapers. tonio Express-News, Dallas
“They don’t want to see Morning News, Fort Worth
government grow,” said poll- Star-Telegram and Austin
ster Micheline Blum, of Blum American-Statesman. It in-
& Weprin Associates Inc., of cluded 1,073 registered vot-
New York. “When they do ers, 673 of whom were classi-
think about increasing rev- fied as likely voters. The mar-
enue at all, they go for the gin of error for likely voters is
vices.” Please see BUDGET, Page B5
BALANCING THE BUDGET
Poll of likely Texas voters conducted Oct. 22-27:
As you may know, Texas faces at least an $18 billion state
budget deﬁcit in the next two-year budget period. To close
the deﬁcit, state lawmakers have two basic options:
cutting spending and increasing revenue. While both may
be necessary, would you prefer that Texas do …
More to cut spending 50%
More to increase revenue 19%
Both equally* 20%
Not sure/refused 11%
MICHAEL PAULSEN : C H R O N I C L E In which of the following areas would you cut the most?
A HAPPY DAY: Anthony Graves is greeted Thursday by defense lawyer Katherine Scardino, center, and University of St. Thomas
Public schools for grades K-12 4%
professor Nicole Casarez, who led a team that ultimately won Graves’ release after he served 18 years for a crime he didn’t commit.
Universities and junior colleges 28%
Health services for the poor 7%
AN ARMY OF BELIEVERS
Public Safety 12%
Not sure/refused 15%
8-year battle to free an innocent man HOW THE CASE EVOLVED
A timeline breaks down the key dates in the
Which of the following ways to increase
state revenue would you most favor?
won by a band of lawyers and students Anthony Graves case. PAGE B4 New forms of gambling
Broaden the sales tax
Increase taxes on alcohol 42%
who first heard of Graves in 2002, In that sense, Graves was lucky.
By JEANNIE KEVER when she was a journalism student “Anthony Graves is fortunate he had Statewide property tax 3%
HOUSTON CHRONICLE All* 2%
at the University of St. Thomas. “We lawyers who, not at the very beginning
One by one, Anthony Graves knew there was actually a chance he maybe, but who eventually came to None* 9%
built an army of believers, a group of was innocent.” the conclusion that he was an innocent Not sure/refused 10%
lawyers and students who fought to As the students continued to person,” said lawyer Katherine * Response volunteered by respondents
prove his innocence. investigate, their certainty grew. Scardino. “Each and every person who Note: Because of rounding, totals may not equal 100 percent
“I think, even from the first time we The work lasted for eight years and had something to do with this case told Source: Telephone poll of a random sample of 1,073 registered voters, of whom 673 were
classiﬁed as “likely voters,” conducted for a consortium of Texas newspapers by Blum &
read through it, we felt like this case involved several dozen students and me, ‘This is an innocent person.’ ” Weprin Associates, Inc. Margin of error is +/- 3.8%
was different,” said Meghan Bingham, almost as many lawyers. Please see TEAM, Page B4 CHRONICLE
What agency inspects trams? None A&M scare Katy school bond drive
No government safety rules are set from the Federal Aviation
Administration, the Federal
a false alarm dialing wrong number
for vehicle that killed worker at IAH Transit Administration, the Students and Parents irate Nov. 2 school construction
Federal Railroad Administra- referendum.
escalators and moving side- tion, the Occupational Safe- faculty were on over robocalls to Team Katy, a political ac-
By ZAIN SHAUK
walks are inspected and cited ty and Health Administra- lockdown after cells and offices tion committee endorsing the
for violations according to tion, the Texas Department $459.8 million bond package,
The automated tram that various public codes, there of Transportation, the Texas reports of a took responsibility for the
struck and killed a contractor are no enforceable standards Department of Licensing and gunman on campus H O U S T O N C H R O N I C L E
By ERICKA MELLON calls, which went to thou-
Tuesday at Bush Interconti- for the unmanned trams that Regulation and the city of sands of parents’ home, cel-
nental Airport did not meet shuttle about 5,000 travelers Houston all said the same surfaced. Officials Parents in the Katy school lular and office phones on
government safety regula- between the airport’s termi- thing: Not us. later said the cause district are expressing outrage Wednesday evening.
tions for operation because nals every hour at speeds as Bush Intercontinental Air- over a stream of automated The Katy Independent
none exist for the vehicle, high as 33 mph. port leaves safety clearance of the scare was a phones calls they received School District released a
according to city, state and Asked who sets safety reg- for the tram system up to the replica AK-47. this week — on numbers they statement Thursday saying
federal officials. ulations for the system and companies who built and run thought were private — ask- it did not coordinate the calls
While trains, elevators, others like it, representatives Please see TRAM, Page B5 STORY ON PAGE B3 ing for their support of the Please see BOND, Page B5
Created on Adobe Document Server 2.0
B2 HOUSTON CHRONICLE ¬¬¬
THE CITY & STATE Friday, October 29, 2010
Driver dies after
car hit by gunfire
A driver was shot and
killed when someone opened
fire on his car Thursday
morning in southeast
The shooting occurred in
the 5600 block of Ridgeway
near Sharondale about 1
a.m., police said. The man
was driving alone when his
car was hit at least once by
gunfire. He continued to
drive but lost control of the
car, which crashed into a
Man dies from
are investigating the fatal
shooting of a man early
Thursday near Interstate 45
in north Harris County after
he called 911 and asked for
The man was found
inside a car in the 14200
block of North Freeway near
Remington Valley about 2
a.m., according to the Harris
County Sheriff’s Office. MAYRA BELTRÁN : C H R O N I C L E
Deputies said the man was
driving a blue Buick when he
Perfect ﬂying conditions
called 911 and told the call
taker he had been shot and
where he had stopped.
T finally started to feel like fall around Houston Thursday after a fast-
for freeway work moving cold front blew through, bringing seasonal temperatures and
Commuters in northwest
Harris County could see windy conditions. Jerome Vielman and Jennifer Yi headed out to the
some traffic relief after Japanese Gardens to fly a kite, where he also proposed to Yi. She said yes.
the Texas Transportation
Commission approved $140 ONLINE:
million on Thursday for the chron.com/weather
completion of one of the
state’s busiest interchanges. blogs.chron.com/
The funding will allow houstonpolitics/
state transportation officials blogs.chron.com/texaspolitics/
Habitual drunken driver
to finish the interchange
at the 610 Loop and U.S.
290. The work includes an CALLS FOR MONITORING
elevated express lane from
is sentenced to life term
Interstate 10 to 290, allowing Sheila
commuters to avoid 610. Jackson Lee
Construction likely will
begin in fall 2012, officials
said. Prior felonies “The two happened to find
each other and cause an ac-
for three days and had drunk
“everything you can imagine”
Officials on hunt and past drug cident,” said Montgomery including “whiskey, wine, Vince Ryan
for ‘rude robber’ possession were County prosecutor Adrienne
Frazior. “This is an example
Harvey’s criminal record Terry
A robber cut in front factors in case of the problem we have in stretches back to 1976, with O’Rourke
of several customers at a Montgomery County.” more than eight DWI convic-
northeast Houston bank The average number of tions, but Frazior said she
before he threatened a teller By RENÉE C. LEE people driving while intoxi- could only use eight convic-
and then left with money, cated in Mont- tions as evidence during the
authorities said Thursday. George Larry Harvey, a gomery County trial.
No injuries were reported drinker since he was a teen- is significantly Besides DWI convictions,
in the robbery ager, has been convicted of higher than Harvey also has been found
Wednesday drunken driving eight times the state aver- guilty of driving with a sus-
at a Chase and has even served two pris- age, said As- pended driver’s license at
bank branch on sentences for DWI. But it sistant District least four times and convict-
inside a the took another drunken driver Attorney War- ed of marijuana possession,
Fiesta grocery to get him off the road per- HARVEY ren Diepraam, Frazior said.
at 9419 Mesa manently. who heads the
Drive. On April 3, 2009, some- vehicular crimes unit. Sister hits sentence
SUSPECT The FBI time around midnight, Har- Harvey received the tough- Harvey’s older sister, Nan-
is calling the vey got behind the wheel est punishment under the law cy Rector, said her brother
man the “rude robber.” of his pickup after spending because he is a habitual of- was diagnosed with a mental
He walked into the bank the day drinking at a friend’s fender. With two prior felony illness when he was young,
at about 10:15 a.m., cut in house on FM 1485, near Kings DWI convictions in 1996 and and he started drinking as a Jonathan
front of customers to get Road in New Caney. As he 2005, his third conviction teenager. He also began us- Saenz
to the teller, officials said. pulled out of the driveway made him eligible for an en- ing drugs, mostly marijuana,
He handed the teller a note with his headlights off, Wan- hanced sentence of 25 years she said.
demanding money and da Medford, who also had to life, Frazior said. The twice-divorced father
reached for his waist, as if been drinking, plowed into He showed no reaction or of two never sought treat-
he had a weapon, officials his pickup, according to po- remorse for his actions during ment for his addictions, and
said. The teller did not see a lice. the reading of the verdict and family members never tried
weapon but gave him cash. Both were arrested and sentence, she said. to get him help, she said.
Anyone with information later charged with DWI. The video of Harvey’s ar- Harvey, who worked odd
about the case should contact Medford, 41, pleaded rests clearly showed a man jobs painting and remodel- Francine Feisel
Crime Stoppers of Houston guilty to her first DWI offense with a serious drinking prob- ing homes, had his highs
at 713-222-TIPS (8477). last August and was ordered lem, she said. The state troop- and lows, which included an
to pay an $800 fine and serve er and Montgomery County attempted suicide in 1995. Tom
Dry conditions three days in jail. sheriff’s deputies on the scene He cut his throat over a rela-
said his speech was slurred tionship that went sour, said
lead to grass fire No reaction, no remorse and he couldn’t walk straight. Rector, who testified for the
A fast-moving grass Harvey, 59, went to trial, Harvey refused a blood defense. — JOE HOLLEY
fire consumed more than was found guilty by a Mont- draw and breath test and told She said she believes her
100 acres Thursday before gomery County jury and sen- police to take him to jail. He brother’s life sentence was
firefighters from several tenced to life in prison on also told the arresting officer unjust. He’s an addict who EARLY VOTING A HIT
agencies brought it under Wednesday. that he had been drinking has never hurt anybody but
control. himself, she said.
There were no reported “All these years of putting
injuries from the blaze that addicts in prison, has it made
erupted about 10:40 a.m. things better in our lives?”
near Texas 99 in northeast she said. “It hasn’t.”
Fort Bend County, officials Rector, who lives near
said. Harvey in New Caney, said
The fire was under control she’s knows her brother did
by about 3 p.m., although fire wrong by driving drunk, but
crews remained on the scene “he shouldn’t be in a criminal
to prevent any flare-ups, situation.”
officials said. The National
Weather Service issued a email@example.com — MATT SCHWARTZ
Red Flag Warning for much
of southeast Texas because
of dry conditions and winds
with gusts up to 30 mph.
Galveston gets Deputy in bribery case steps down
new fire chief any longer have to focus on dictment, Ellington accessed
Galveston City Council By CINDY GEORGE any future administrative is- information from confiden-
Thursday night confirmed MAYRA BELTRÁN : C H R O N I C L E sues or hearings.” tial law enforcement data-
Jeff Smith as fire chief, city A Harris County Sheriff’s Ellington submitted his bases and provided security
Smith has been serving Take another look deputy charged with accept-
ing bribes has resigned, his
letter of resignation to the of-
fice Thursday afternoon, ac-
to a person he believed to be
an Ecstasy dealer. The indict-
as interim chief for the last attorney said Thursday. cording to Overstreet. ment accuses him of twice ac-
several months, officials said. UIS Mares places caution signs on the George Wesley Ellington Alan Bernstein, a spokes- cepting $500 bribes — once in
He has been with the city for decided to leave his job to man for the Sheriff’s Office, February and again in April.
the last 27 years. medians in the intersection of Buffalo focus on the federal charges could not confirm a resigna- He was arrested Tuesday
“I’m excited to lead the Speedway and Bissonnet on Thursday as against him, said his attorney, tion. “Until we hear other- and has pleaded not guilty.
fine men and woman who part of insurance provider Allstate’s campaign to Todd Overstreet. wise he remains suspended Reporter Zain Shauk contributed to
serve this community,” “We just want to focus on indefinitely without pay,” this report.
Smith said in a news release.
encourage motorists to look twice before moving the government’s allegation,” Bernstein said.
— FROM STAFF REPORTS through an intersection. Overstreet said. “We don’t According to a federal in- firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, October 29, 2010
THE STATE ¬¬¬ HOUSTON CHRONICLE B3
Replica gun causes scare at A&M
in friend’s death Lockdown canceled after reports Texas on Sept. 28. Baron said. “He matches the man violated any university
FREER — Police in Freer Sgt. Allan Baron of the initial description that we re- regulations.
interviewed one boy after his of gunman turn into a false alarm A&M police department con- ceived.” “I haven’t received any re-
14-year-old friend was fatally firmed a young man was tak- ports that he pointed at any-
shot while the two were in later when the gun turned out en into custody for question- ‘Not a violation’ one or any statements were
the woods. By JAMES PINKERTON to be a plastic replica. ing about the incident, adding Campus officials reported made. We had no reports
Police Chief Roy Salazar The shooting scare was the the college-age man is not that an armed man was re- of shots being fired, or any
says the investigation Texas A&M University was third in a month at prominent accused of breaking any law. portedly seen at 4 p.m. near injuries, or anything of that
continues into Wednesday on lockdown Thursday as of- Texas universities, following “We do have an individual the Rudder Tower. nature,” Baron said.
afternoon’s death of Eden ficials tracked down a man an incident at Sam Houston of interest that we are ques- “It’s not a violation of Thursday night, students
Gonzalez. Police say carrying what was reported State University on Oct. 22 tioning. We have determined law,” to carry a replica weap- at the College Station campus
Gonzalez suffered one shot to as an assault weapon, but it and the suicide of an armed that he was in possession of on on campus, Baron said, were relieved when univer-
his upper left torso. canceled the alert two hours student at the University of a replica-style AK-47 rifle,’’ adding he didn’t believe the sity officials said the situation
Gonzalez, who attended was over.
Freer Junior High School, Taylor Germain, a fresh-
was transported to Christus man from Houston studying
Spohn Hospital Alice, where civil engineering, was in his
he was pronounced dead. dorm room when officials
Salazar says police are first alerted the campus of
trying to determine who a possible gunman. The of-
owns the .222 caliber weapon ficials quickly told the 200 or
and other circumstances of so residents to gather in the
the shooting. lobby.
“It’s pretty secure, but I
Endangered rhino felt safer in my room,” the
Strake Jesuit graduate said af-
dies suddenly ter the all clear was sounded.
S A N A N T O N I O — An
endangered black rhinoceros Recent cases
named “Herbie” has died at Jenny Harrington, a soph-
the San Antonio Zoo. omore nutrition major from
Zoo officials say the cause Rockport, said she feared the
of Wednesday’s sudden death reports of a gunman on cam-
is sought. A necropsy did not pus might be A&M’s version
offer an immediate reason for of a UT shooter situation.
the death of the 18-year-old “I really thought about (the
male rhino. University of) Texas and what
Herbie had been at the happened there,” she said.
San Antonio Zoo since 1999 On Oct. 22, police at Sam
and sired two calves, in 2001 Houston State University in
and 2004. Huntsville locked town the
He was born at the San campus while they investigat-
Diego Zoo. ed reports of gunmen on the
campus. Police found several
Judge orders guru gamers who were using plas-
tic “air compression toys’’
to remain in U.S. that resembled guns.
A U S T I N — An elderly Late last month, UT stu-
Hindu guru facing 20 counts dent Colton Tooley, 19, fired
of indecency with a child by P A U L M O S E L E Y : F O R T W O R T H S TA R -T E L E G R A M several shots from an AK-47
sexual contact must remain assault rifle on a campus
Celebrating a milestone
in the United States until street. The student, who was
his January trial, a judge has dressed in black and wore a
ruled. ski mask, ran to a campus li-
State District Judge brary and killed himself.
Charles Ramsay revoked ORMER nurse Sally Hurt gets a hug from geriatric care manager Melinda Chance at Hurt’s
the passport of 82-year-old 109th birthday party Wednesday at the James L. West Alzheimer Center in Fort Worth. Hurt’s Mike Glenn contributed to this report.
Prakashanand Saraswati on
Wednesday. family and friends also were there for the celebration. email@example.com
Attorneys for Saraswati,
known as Shree Swamiji,
had claimed he was too frail
for trial and that he has
continuing back problems.
Prosecutors say the guru
has maintained an active
River runs through it: Public debates state land deal
overseas travel schedule this
year, the Austin American-
Critics raise more for less; and they are
angered the department is
parks department is trying to
carry out fly-by-night land
to enjoy,” Boruff said, ex-
plaining that Sanders’ Devils
Statesman reported. environmental, rushing to approve the deal acquisitions. Environmen- River Ranch was appraised
The charges against
Saraswati accuse him of procedural issues on Nov. 4, accusing it of dodg-
ing its own policy for buying
talists accuse the agency of
violating its 30-day public
for more money because it
has eight more miles of riv-
indecency in relation to his and selling land. comment period, pegging the erfront and has been well
contact with two children By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI “This reeks of being a start on Oct. 12 when news maintained.
A S S O C I AT E D P R E S S
between 1993 and 1996 at very bad deal,” Tom Goynes, releases on the proposal went Sanders, the owner of the
Barsana Dham, an ashram H O U S T O N — The Texas president of the Texas Rivers out. The parks department ranch, put his property on the
south of Austin. Parks and Wildlife Depart- Protection Association, said. insists the comment period market two years ago because
ment wants to give a Dal- “We would at least like to see began at an Oct. 4 luncheon “we have, really, too many
Road altercation las businessman a remote, the process slowed down.” with environmentalists and ranches now.” Initially, he
20,000-acre parcel of land The park service, how- notes the deal has generated said, he opposed a deal with
leads to inquiry plus $8 million in exchange ever, argues the natural area more discussion than nearly the park service but is now
An internal affairs for his 17,000-acre ranch, a is largely inaccessible. Roads any other. convinced it would benefit
investigation has been proposal that has pit local are poor, it is nearly two the river and the public.
opened into a Collin landowners against one an- hours away from Del Rio, the ‘Too many ranches’ And although he doesn’t
County road rage incident other and that is opposed by closest town, and the upper So much, in fact, that a know whether he will hold on
involving a Dallas police environmental groups. T E X A S PA R K S & W I L D L I F E part of the river, where it sits, public meeting held earlier to the natural area after ac-
public information officer, The West Texas properties CONTROVERSY: The Devils is braved by only the most ex- this month in Del Rio at- quiring it, he vows to improve
authorities said. are along the Devils River, a River runs along the two perienced kayakers, who have tracted dozens of landowners the property.
Sgt. Jon Felty, an Allen pristine waterway considered disputed tracts of land. to paddle furiously for 12 for and against the deal, Scott The agency already has
police spokesman, told the the state’s last “wild” river hours to get to the only public Boruff, deputy executive di- $6 million for the swap — $4
Dallas Morning News the and used as a benchmark for in unique crevices, canyons campsite in the area. rector of the parks depart- million in state and federal
incident began Friday during clean water standards. The and mesas dotted with prehis- The park service says ment, said. grants and $2 million from
rush hour on U.S. Highway land, on the Texas-Mexico toric rock art. swapping this rough terrain “Our goal is not to ac- an anonymous donor. Now, it
75 as Dallas Senior Cpl. border near Del Rio, is the for Rod Sander’s downstream quire more acres, but ensure is trying to collect $2 million
Janice Crowther and Jeffrey state’s second largest “natural Process decried ranch would allow the depart- that the ones we have are in donations to complete the
Simmons of Frisco headed area” — an official designa- Critics fear the transac- ment to control the fragile well-protected and available transaction, Boruff said.
north in their vehicles. tion that affords seven Texas tion would pollute the river waterway and set up a fam-
Crowther, who was properties the highest level when more people visit it; ily friendly state park in the
off duty at the time, had of environmental protection. they wonder why the cash- lower, more mellow stretch
slammed on her brakes to Endangered species, includ- strapped agency is spending of river.
avoid hitting Simmons, who ing the tiny black-capped vir- nearly all its land acquisition The debate has spurred
had abruptly slowed in front eo bird — live and nest there. funds when further budget conspiracy theories and
of her, Felty said. Crowther Rare plants and desert fauna cuts are likely; they argue the raised long-buried anxieties
honked and flashed her lights thrive in the vast area, nestled park service is handing over by environmentalists that the
at Simmons, Felty said.
Both exited and pulled
alongside each other in the
roadway. Simmons told
police in a 911 call that
Crowther pointed a gun at
him. Simmons later told
officers that he did not
believe Crowther had pointed
a gun at him. Crowther
denied having displayed her
over nude photos
A U S T I N — An Austin
firefighter who allegedly
posted nude photos of
himself online has been fired
for conduct unbecoming a
member of the department.
Fire Chief Mae Kerr on
Wednesday put Alejandro
Garza on indefinite
suspension without pay.
A disciplinary memo from
Kerr says Garza included
information online that
identified him as an Austin
A citizen’s complaint in
July led to the investigation.
Garza told authorities he
last posted photos in 2006
and had taken them off the
— FROM WIRE REPORTS
B4 HOUSTON CHRONICLE ¬¬¬*
THE ANTHONY GRAVES CASE Friday, October 29, 2010
“It’s hard to turn your back when there’s been an injustice done.”
THE HISTORY NICOLE CASAREZ, St. Thomas volunteer and a member of Graves’ 2006 defense team
OF THE CASE
Key dates leading up to Anthony Graves’
conviction and subsequent release from
Texas’ death row this week:
AUGUST 1992: Lisa Davis files a paternity
suit in Somerville to gain child support
from Robert Carter, a corrections officer
in Navasota, for their 4-year-old son,
AUG. 18, 1992: Somerville authorities
discover the bodies of Lisa Davis’ mother,
Bobbie Davis, her 16-year-old daughter,
Nicole Davis; and four grandchildren:
Denitra, 9, Brittany, 6, Lea’ Erin, 5, and
Jason, 4, inside a burning home. The
victims were stabbed a total of 66 times.
Nicole was shot. Bobbie was bludgeoned.
The weapons involved: a knife, a hammer
and a .22-caliber pistol.
AUG. 22, 1992: Carter, Jason Davis’ father,
appears at the funerals with burns and
injuries to his left hand and face. Carter
tells Texas Rangers that he hurt himself
burning weeds in the yard and denies any
involvement in the killings. But Carter
volunteers to take, and promptly fails, a
polygraph exam. Finally, he admits he was
in the home but says another man, his
wife’s first cousin, Anthony Graves, whom MICHAEL PAULSEN PHOTOS : C H R O N I C L E
he first refers to first as “Kenneth,” was A NEW BEGINNING: Anthony Graves puts on a clean shirt in the men’s restroom after getting barbecue sauce on his other shirt at a celebration
the killer. lunch at Katherine Scardino’s law office. After lunch, he held a news conference to discuss his release from prison.
AUG. 26, 1992: Carter’s testimony changes
for the first time. He tells grand jurors
that neither he nor Graves was involved in
the murders but does acknowledge what
he told the Rangers. Later, Carter testifies
got involved back in 2002
at his own trial that Graves wielded the
knife. Carter also tells grand jurors how he
was concerned about how Davis’ paternity
suit and resulting child support payments
would wreck his credit rating.
FEB. 8, 1994: Robert Carter is found guilty CONTINUED FROM PAGE B1 David Mullen and Jeff
of capital murder, and three days later he’s Scardino and Jimmy Phillips Blackburn, founder of the
sentenced to death. of Angleton were appointed to Innocence Project of Texas, had
represent Graves in 2008, two volunteered to work for Graves
years after his conviction had as well, steering the case
OCT. 21, 1994: On the eve of Graves’ capital been overturned in the 1992 through a series of hearings as
murder trial, Carter tells prosecutor Somerville murder of a woman, Graves remained in jail while
Charles Sebesta that he alone committed her teenage daughter and her prosecutors decided whether to
the murders. Sebesta counters that he four grandchildren and a new mount another trial.
knows that is not true because of the trial was ordered. Casarez and Phillips
number of weapons used. Carter changes But Wednesday’s decision broke the news to Graves late
his story again, claiming he committed by a Central Texas prosecutor Wednesday afternoon.
the murders with Graves and a third to free Graves dates back at “Nicole said, ‘God is good,’ ”
man called “Red.” He would later tell least to 2002, when a letter Phillips said. “He couldn’t
the inmate had written was believe it, but he didn’t cry
authorities that his wife goes by the
reviewed by lawyers at the until I left the room.”
nickname “Red.” In exchange for no Texas Innocence Network, Many of the students had
questions about his wife, Carter agrees founded by University of visited Graves while he was
to testify against Graves. Also, Graves’ Houston law professor David on death row, separated by a
sister, brother and girlfriend, Yolanda Dow. plexiglass shield.
Mathis, tell grand jurors that Graves was Dow asked for volunteers “It was my first experience
with them at the time of the murders. But among his law students and ever being inside a jail, much SARTORIAL: Graves recalled that Scardino made him change into
just as Mathis is to testify at Graves’ trial, the St. Thomas journalism less a maximum security nice clothes whenever he was in court. She said she bought this suit a
Sebesta makes a request that Mathis be students, warning them that prison,” said Gia Gustilo, year ago and was happy he could finally wear it.
notified she could be charged as a suspect. the work would last far beyond 33, who works for a medical
their time in class. journal. “I didn’t know what to
She then declines to testify and is never
“My students and I looked expect. There was this guy who she had been with Graves that 26, who graduated in 2006 and
charged. at each other, and our hands just seemed like a regular guy.” night, along with people who now works for the Innocence
shot up in the air,” said Still, she sensed he had met disputed testimony that Graves Project in New York. “I looked
NOV. 1, 1994: Graves is convicted and Nicole Casarez, who teaches plenty of people who promised and Carter had been heard on Facebook, and then I found
sentenced to death. journalism at the private to help but ultimately gave up. talking about the case while in my phone. We were all just so
Catholic school in Montrose. “As much as I think he jail awaiting trial. happy.”
1997: The Texas Court of Criminal appreciated us looking into Bingham, Gustilo and
Appeals upholds Graves’ conviction. Years of hard work the case, I think he also didn’t Lots of heavy lifting several other students gathered
The students are grown know whether to be hopeful or They pored through in Scardino’s office Thursday
1998: Carter writes letters from prison now — Bingham, 31, graduated not,” she said. transcripts and stalked for their first glimpse of Graves
in 2003 and is office manager Graves had always countless people who refused as a free man.
to friends, Davis family members and
for a veterinarian — but they maintained his innocence, to talk. “Hey,” he said, reaching
Graves’ appellate attorney stating that continued to work on Graves’ claiming he was home in “It was critical,” Dow said out to hug each of them as
Graves did not participate in the crimes. case. Brenham with his brother of the students’ help. “Nicole everybody blinked back tears.
“It’s hard to turn your back when the murders happened is the experienced investigator, “We’re all in a state of
when there’s been an injustice in Somerville. A co-defendant, but she had many students shock,” Casarez said. “Nobody’s
done,” said Casarez, who is Robert Carter, had initially who were helping her with all gotten any sleep. It’s been very
also a lawyer and who joined claimed Graves was there but kinds of critical tasks, finding exciting and wonderful. It just
Graves’ defense team in 2006. later recanted. Carter was addresses, tracking people.” shows you that amazing things
“It’s pretty clear this guy didn’t executed in 2000. The payoff came Wednesday, can happen. Justice finally has
have anything to do with it. It’s The students tracked as the news trickled out. been done.”
hard to turn away from that.” down Graves’ girlfriend, who “Gia posted something on
By then, Amarillo lawyers provided an affidavit claiming Twitter,” said Chester Suria, firstname.lastname@example.org
ON DEATH ROW: Anthony Graves during a
2001 interview at the Terrel Unit in Livingston.
MELISSA PHILLIP : C H R O N I C L E F I L E
MAY 2000: Less than two weeks before his
execution, Graves’ attorneys grill Carter,
who detailed how he acted alone in the
murders, killing the children as they slept.
MAY 31, 2000: Carter tells witnesses to his
execution, “It was me and me alone.”
2006: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals overturns Graves’ conviction,
ruling that he deserved a new trial
because prosecutors elicited false
statements from two witnesses and
withheld two statements that could have
changed the minds of jurors.
OCT. 27, 2010: Burleson County District
Attorney Bill Parham files a motion to
dismiss all charges against Graves, and he
Source: Houston Chronicle research and other news
sources REUNION: Anthony Graves gives a hug to former University of St. Thomas students Meghan Bingham, left, Michael Bingham and Gia Gustilo, who
helped do research in an investigative journalism class that eventually led to his release from prison.
Friday, October 29, 2010
THE JUMP PAGE ¬¬¬ HOUSTON CHRONICLE B5
to cut spending
CONTINUED FROM PAGE B1 education, then you should
plus or minus 3.8 percentage make that commitment on
points. your own,” said Baggs, who
Asked whether they would works for a liquor distribu-
like to see lawmakers do more tion company. “I figured out a
to cut spending or boost rev- way to pay for my college. We
enue to balance the budget, don’t have to pay for every-
50 percent of likely voters body else’s college as well.”
said cut spending; 19 percent Jeanne Pressler, 61, a se-
said increase revenue. Twenty nior trainer with the Houston
percent said they would like Police Department, said she
to see both done equally. favors cuts in public educa-
Poll respondent Rafael So- tion over raising taxes or fees
to, 66, of San Antonio, chose to balance the state budget.
spending cuts as the way to “I don’t have any children,
go. so it doesn’t make a lot of dif-
“The problem with that is ference to me,” Pressler said.
nobody wants to give up any- “We’re paying lots and lots of
thing that we have,” he said. our tax money on schools, and
“Everybody says we need to I don’t think we’re getting our
cut, but nobody wants to money’s worth, from what I
say how, why or do anything read in the newspapers.”
After higher education, 12 Parents should pay
percent of respondents said Retiree Shirley McKee, 75,
they would like to see spend- of Houston, said to balance
ing cuts in public safety, and 7 the state budget, higher edu-
percent chose health services cation should be cut. She said BRETT COOMER PHOTOS : C H R O N I C L E
for the poor. The least ap- the parents of those seeking COSTUMED FUN: Margot Rozowski, 2, dressed as an angel, plays Thursday at the Children’s Museum of Houston.
pealing option appeared to be college educations should pay
reduced spending on public the tab, or students should
education, with only 4 per- take out loans, as her eldest
cent choosing that. son did.
If revenue is to be raised, “I can’t support the rest of
at kids’ museum
42 percent favor increasing Texas for higher degrees,” she
taxes on alcoholic beverages, said. If more money is need-
while 22 percent want to ed, she said she would vote
authorize new forms of gam- for casino-style gambling.
bling. Eleven percent picked Joyce Horton, 61, a re-
broadening the sales tax to tired high school math teach-
include items not currently er from Kingwood, said the XHIBITS at the Children’s Museum of
taxed, and 3 percent chose the state should handle its budget Houston have been converted into their
idea of a statewide property problems through a combi- own Halloween themes for the Happy
tax. Nine percent said they nation of cuts and increased
would not raise revenue by revenues.
Halloween Mansion event, with trick-or-
any of those methods. “I don’t mind paying taxes treating throughout the museum and activities
if it goes to a good wor- set through Sunday. The museum will have
Add those slot machines thy cause,” Horton said, but extended hours through the weekend, remaining
The most popular choices added she could see expand- FOLLOW THE LEADER: Retavious Mathis high-fives a patron as
listed in the poll, however, ed casino-style gambling at he leads a group around the Happy Halloween Mansion. open until 8 p.m.
would not have a big immedi- horse tracks. “We have a lot of
ate effect. The mixed bever- revenue in the Houston area
age tax, set at 14 percent in going over to Louisiana. So
Engineering standards used
1990, brought in nearly $619 long as it’s not corrupt, I don’t
million in the 2010 fiscal see a problem with keeping it
year. Even doubling it would
leave a huge revenue gap.
Texas Commissioner of
Putting slot machines at Higher Education Raymund
race tracks and Native Ameri- Paredes was concerned over CONTINUED FROM PAGE B1 Bombardier. with the ASCE standards, ac- overseeing personnel, caus-
can lands would yield $500 the poll results regarding it, said Marlene McClinton, a But those standards are cording to the airport. ing injury, Herring said. A
million to $1 billion in the higher education funding. spokeswoman for the Hous- not binding or enforceable, Clark County, Nev., is one passerby helped to open the
budget period, and nearly $1 “People tend to think that ton Airport System. functioning more like guide- area that has adopted the doors and free the employee,
billion a year after that, say public higher education is There are no government lines than regulations, said ASCE standards into an or- he said.
those backing the idea. better off than it is,” he said. regulations requiring, for ex- Joan Buhrman, a spokeswom- dinance in order to be able The workers hit by the
Eric Baggs, 37, of San People “know that universi- ample, that cameras be in- an for the society. to regulate automated people tram at Bush were on its
Antonio, said the shortfall ties can raise money through stalled to monitor operations “They’re not law, they’re movers at Las Vegas’ McCa- elevated track, and their pres-
should be addressed by both tuition and fees, so they as- of the computer-controlled voluntary standards,” rran Airport and hotels on the ence in the area was not unex-
cuts and increased revenue. sume that people can bear the trams, or that observers regu- Buhrman said. “So it’s sort of city’s popular strip, said Dave pected, McClinton said.
He picked universities as a cost. They don’t know there larly view such video, or that the practice of the profession. Durkee, principal engineer OSHA is investigating the
place to cut. are a lot of very needy kids other warning systems are It’s not as though we’re a legal for the county. cause of the incident.
“If you’re going to go to that cannot afford higher edu- implemented to halt trams if body that sets the laws on “If you didn’t have any Turner was “performing
college, there’s a lot of ways cation without support.” someone is on the track. what you must do.” of these laws and your air- routine construction inspec-
to go to college. If you want Travis Turner, an employee Johnson Controls, which port wasn’t following any of tion services” on the day of
to make that commitment to email@example.com for contractor PBSJ Corpora- operates the automated sys- these standards, as a regula- the crash, PBSJ Corporation
tion, was one of two workers tem, handles its inspections tory agency you would have spokeswoman Kathe Jackson
who were on the track Tues- according to its own safety no real authority to go out said in an e-mail.
day conducting their “normal protocols, McClinton said. there and tell them to fix it, or The injured worker is an
BOND:District thought it duties” when they were hit
by a tram on a stretch of track
between the Marriott Hotel
Although the city hires in-
spectors to approve elevators,
escalators and moving walk-
how to fix it, or why,” Durkee
employee for Weber LLC.,
a construction company spe-
cializing in highways, bridges
was complying with law and Terminal B, according to
ways for operation, a similar
system is not in place for
Johnson Controls, which
and airports, said company
administrator Jim Hall.
Turner died at the scene, automated trams, said Mike operates similar people-mov- The men “were tasked
CONTINUED FROM PAGE B1 the school district this year, and the other worker, who Dorosk, Houston’s senior el- er systems around the coun- with repairing a handrail
but did provide the phone said she provided her family’s was not identified, was in- evator inspector who for 13 try, also ran an automated in a location more than 150
numbers in response to a re- cell and work phone numbers jured and airlifted to Memo- years coordinated regulation tram service at Miami In- feet from where the accident
quest made under the state’s only as emergency contact rial Hermann Hospital. of conveyance devices at the ternational Airport in 2008, occurred,” according to a
public-information law. information. airport. when a tram overran a stop statement from Johnson Con-
“It’s an invasion of our “We guard those numbers Standards not binding Airports nationwide oper- and crashed into a wall, injur- trols.
privacy,” said Karen Jaggers, carefully,” she said. The automated tram is op- ate their automated trams ing five people. Johnson Controls has safe-
who received three calls on Jaggers added that she is so erated by Johnson Controls in accordance with ASCE Miami International Air- ty protocols for its operations
her cell phone and at least one upset over the calls that she Inc. of Wisconsin and was standards, but it was unclear port has since terminated its but said: “It is not clear, how-
on her land line. Her husband now is leaning toward oppos- built by Bombardier Trans- whether they are regulated by contract with Johnson Con- ever, whether the parties in-
also got three calls on his cell ing the bond referendum. portation of Montreal. local authorities, since federal trols and is suing the com- volved in the accident were in
and two on his office phone. “I have a really bad taste Bombardier builds and agencies have not established pany. compliance with these safety
Katy ISD officials said they in my mouth for the way this inspects its automated tram rules for the systems as they A Continental Airlines protocols.”
interpreted the public-records campaign’s been run,” she systems, which it has con- have done for trains. employee also is suing John- Representatives for PBSJ
law as requiring the release of said. structed at airports nation- Automated trams at Chi- son Controls for an incident Corp. and Weber LLC would
all phone numbers. They now wide, in accordance with cago O’Hare International involving a tram at Bush In- not comment on the workers’
plan to explore the option of System glitch blamed standards developed by the Airport, for example, are not tercontinental Airport, said actions and the specifics sur-
letting parents keep “second- Robert Carpenter, the vice American Society of Civil regulated, although they are Marty Herring, her attorney. rounding the incident.
ary” numbers, such as cell chairman of the Team Katy Engineers, said Maryanne inspected by the operating The tram doors closed on
and office lines, private. PAC, said the committee did Roberts, a spokeswoman for company, OEM, in accordance her and were not opened by firstname.lastname@example.org
Other local districts, in- not intend to call voters’ cell
cluding Houston ISD and and work numbers, and es-
Alief, said they release only pecially not multiple times.
home numbers, or the prima-
ry contact that parents pro-
vide for school directories.
Alief spokeswoman Susan
He blamed a glitch in the
automated system for repeat-
ing the calls until the message
urging support for the bond
CASEY: E-mail seeks Latino support
Castro said cell numbers are was played in full. CONTINUED FROM PAGE B1 them to win.” predicting Rick Perry will Hispanics and blacks, who
given out only if parents listed “We thought this would be resign because they are about She went on to say, “In win, but 20 points if you pick vote heavily Democratic.
it as their primary number. a positive way to try to get out to be indicted. today’s political climate, we Bill White and he wins. Campaign consultant
Numbers are often re- the vote,” he said. “We had According to the cannot count on winning Murray’s sheet awards 20 Kyle Johnston, who nightly
quested by vendors — such as a good idea that didn’t work University of Houston’s without our Latino vote. points for picking Garcia and crunches numbers showing
for class rings or yearbooks — out.” Dick Murray, the unofficial We need you to block walk only 5 points for picking her the primary voting history
and by military recruiters. George Huntoon, a volun- dean of area political and phone bank every day Republican opponent. of early voters, said
The federal law that gov- teer who coordinated the au- scientists, the last incumbent until Election Day. We are in Does Murray really think Republicans had a clear lead
erns student records says that tomated calls, said he ordered commissioner to lose was desperate need of bilingual Morman is a 4-1 favorite? in the first week, possibly
schools must give parents the them stopped after learning Jamie Bray in 1974. volunteers, especially for our “That was a typo,” he raising the alarm for Garcia.
option to keep directory in- about the repeats. “He was a one-termer,” phone bank.” says, chuckling. “That’s what But, he said, with early
formation, such as addresses Katy’s bond referendum Murray said. “He hadn’t been you get with a 70-year-old voting sites staying open
and phone numbers, private. also has generated an opposi- very responsive to people.” It’s a pol pool proofing his own work.” later this week than they did
The act does not mention spe- tion committee, called Save But Wednesday, the day Then came one more the first week, more working
cific types of phone numbers, Our Teachers PAC. after I heard that Garcia piece of evidence. Each Running ... scared people have voted and the
and neither does the Texas The bond includes funding might be in trouble, she election, Professor Murray Murray notes that Democrats have pulled even.
open-records law. for the construction of three herself sent out an e-mail to prepares an election pool when she won the seat Johnston declined to give
elementary schools, one ju- supporters with the subject for a bipartisan group of in 2002 with 52 percent, exact numbers but reportedly
Numbers, but no names nior high and a high school. It line: “URGENT Message political junkies that meets she was helped by the fact slightly more than 20 percent
Katy said in its statement also would cover major reno- from Commissioner Sylvia weekly over drinks as “The that Laredo banker Tony of the early voters have no
that it released numbers sort- vations at five older campuses Garcia — I need your help.” Roundtable.” Sanchez spent a reported $76 primary history, and with
ed by ZIP code — as requested — Katy, Taylor and Mayde “This past weekend, I Participants pay $5 to million as the Democratic all the tea party fervor,
— but did not share parent or Creek high schools, and West met with our consultants to predict various races, with gubernatorial candidate and Democrats are nervous.
student names. State law does Memorial and Mayde Creek review Early Vote returns and the winner getting all the increased Hispanic turnout Bottom line: Garcia is
not let districts ask those who junior high schools — and our numbers are not where dough. Murray assigns points by about 50 percent. likely to win, but as Murray
request the phone numbers pay for technology upgrades they should be,” she began. for each race, giving more But, said Murray, Garcia’s said, “She’s right to run
about their plans for them. as well as other projects. “Right now, our Latino credit for correctly picking district has lost Anglo scared.”
Jaggers, who lives in Katy numbers are down from my underdogs. For example, you population since 2002 and
but removed her son from email@example.com previous cycles and I need get two points for correctly gained a large number of firstname.lastname@example.org
B 6 HOUSTON CHRONICLE ¬¬¬
OBITUARIES Friday, October 29, 2010
or email us at
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OBITUARIES ¬¬¬ HOUSTON CHRONICLE B7
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B8 HOUSTON CHRONICLE ¬¬¬
EDITORIAL Friday, October 29, 2010
Jack Sweeney, Publisher and President
Matt Oliver, Executive VP & General Manager Jeff Cohen, Executive VP & Editor
Stephen Weis, Executive VP Sales & Digital Services John Wilburn, Opinion Director
Sam Brown, VP/Display Advertising Senior Editors:
Wes Freas, VP/Automotive Advertising Scott Clark, Dan Cunningham, George Haj,
Chris Frey, VP/National Advertising Kyrie O’Connor
Gene Haddock, VP/Circulation
Roberta Kowalishin, VP & Chief Information Officer
Todd Neal, VP/Real Estate Advertising
Mary Ann Wendt, VP/Human Resources
Showering supporters with state largesse
has become a Rick Perry trademark.
NE of the drawbacks of “TRS’ investment staff never had con-
keeping a Texas governor tact with [Jackson] and was unable to
in office for more than identify any services performed by him
two terms is that through in conjunction with the investment.” LETTERS
the power of appointment, Jackson confirmed his contributions
Blame for teen misplaced?
his or her supporters can come to to- to the governor, but denied the accusa-
tally dominate state boards and com- tions in the memo.
missions. Republican Rick Perry, the Although the TRS staff rejected in-
longest serving Lone Star governor in vestments with Houston-based Encap
history, has used his tenure in office Energy Partners, the TRS’ chief invest- Scapegoats they left their officers on
their own in this situation?
with his family. This must
have been a frightening expe-
to construct a political rewards system ment officer, Britt Harris, reversed the I think this shows that their rience for all of them. It does
that benefits the appointor and the decision. Encap principal Gary Peters-
appointee at the expense of the public en has donated in excess of $300,000 to R EGARDING “2 consta-
bles punished in case of
missing teen” (Page B1, Sat-
were not effective and
put the deputy constables
appear as if the system failed
How could this incident
interest. Perry’s campaign. In the memo, Green urday), I was disappointed in a bad spot. This is an have been prevented?
Under Perry, such manipulation has stated the change of recommendation to read that the two deputy organizational failure. I was puzzled why part
become a political art form that fills on Encap “was a direct result of threats, constables received disciplin- It was a bad decision of the story seems to be
the governor’s campaign coffers while harassment, and intimidation by Mr. ary action for their conduct to put Kenneth out on the missing. When Kenneth gets
making favors, funds and investment Harris after his conversations with in the case of Kenneth Miller. sidewalk. But how did he get off the school bus, who is
opportunities available to contributors. certain members of the Board of Trust- The incident was regret- to the point that that was the responsible for his welfare?
table, and it’s terrible what only decision he felt he could I find it hard to imagine that
Some of the beneficiaries of the Texas ees.” In fact, Green said in the memo happened to Kenneth. But make? To focus only on that a special-needs child can
Emerging Technology Fund controlled his boss had a mantra he repeated on I think these men are being final decision is to discount be dropped off by a school
by Perry are also major contributors to numerous occasions: “I manage a fund made into scapegoats. the many ways this outcome bus several blocks from his
his campaign. with billions of dollars in assets, [and] I find it hard to believe could have been avoided home.
On the other hand, appointees who upsetting a board member or friend that either of these deputy earlier in the process. Does someone meet
constables would be involved — DAVID LEHMANN, Kenneth when he gets off
get out of line can of the fund over in unsuccessful efforts Houston the bus? It is unclear if the
feel the sting of the the investment of to find a place to accept boy became disoriented on
governor’s disap- Republican Rick Perry, the a few hundred mil-
proval. When the lion dollars doesn’t
Miller for hours without
the knowledge of their System failed? his way home or if he made
it home before disappearing.
governor was chal- longest serving Lone Star make sense.” supervisors. Constable Victor Either way, where were
lenged by Sen. Kay governor in history, has used
Bailey Hutchison his tenure in office to construct
County district at-
Trevino said that both men
failed to follow departmental
guidelines. Where was their
I read both of the stories on
the disappearance of Ken-
neth Miller (“A son’s odyssey
the responsible adults in
this scenario? If this child
doesn’t know who he is, why
in the GOP prima- a political rewards system that torney reviewed command structure in all and a mother’s outrage,” is he walking the streets
ry, state university benefits the appointor and the Green’s allegations of this? Why aren’t their Page A1, Friday). I’m happy unattended?
regents who sup- appointee at the expense of the and found no evi- supervisors explaining how that he was safely reunited — JO SAURER,
ported her suddenly dence of criminal
found themselves public interest. actions. TRS hired
replaced. an outside inves-
Ditto for members of the Texas Fo- tigator, Roel Campos, who did find
rensic Science Commission when its evidence that some board members Air-quality improvements people among the attendees who help serve
and clean up during and afterward.
investigation of a man’s execution on referred investment opportunities to Why can’t the people receiving the
questionable arson charges threatened TRS staff. Still, he concluded there
to embarrass Perry, who had refused a was no proof they pressured staff to R EGARDING “Breathe deep, and hold it”
(Page B1, Oct. 10), the real story is that
the improvements in our air are real, they’re
benefits of the generous donations by
Houstonians to the City Wide Club take some
time to volunteer before or after they’ve
last-minute stay for the inmate. make the investments. Nonetheless, a
The latest example of Perry’s pay- careful reading of the memo indicates measurable and they’re sustainable. Houston enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal they have
is meeting the federal limits for ozone for the received?
to-play system involves allegations that they didn’t have to, because Harris per- second year in a row. This is in part because — KEITH ROBERTS,
Perry-appointed trustees of the $102.4 formed that function. industry has reduced its emissions of nitro- Houston
billion Texas Teacher Retirement Sys- This behavior may not be illegal. But gen oxide, a main component of smog, by 80
tem exerted pressure on staff to as- being technically legal doesn’t make it
sign investments to companies whose right or ethical or beneficial to the citi-
The EPA is proposing new air-quality Just wait
standards, but the agency set the current
executives contributed heavily to the zens of Texas.
governor but had been rejected as un-
satisfactory by TRS analysts.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate
Bill White has promised that if elected,
standards for a reason: They protect our
health. So why the change? Good question.
In fact, scientists do not necessarily agree
R EGARDING “Breast-feeding moms won’t
get a break” (Page A1, Wednesday), I
know this is about money, but why should
A whistle-blower memo written last he will institute policies that would that new standards are needed. Clearly, the Internal Revenue Service have the power
year by Michael Green, then director limit contributions to the governor more study is needed. If the EPA lowers the to deny a tax deduction on such a personal
standards to the low end of the proposed matter? That decision should be the respon-
of the TRS investment division private from appointees. range, even Big Bend National Park would be sibility of a patient and her physician. When
markets program, questioned the hir- State business shouldn’t be turned out of attainment. the FairTax becomes law there will be no IRS,
ing of Houston investment agent Al- into a political board game, and we Also, contrary to the claim made in and people can spend their own money with-
fred Jackson, who donated more than hope voters keep that in mind as they the article, the Texas Commission on out bureaucratic dictates.
$90,000 to Perry. According to Green, choose our next governor. Environmental Quality has demonstrated — WILLIAM K. BRUCE,
that the downturn in the economy was not a Houston
significant influence in our cleaner air. Our
air has been improving for 25 years. Through
hard work, the industry in the Houston
area has achieved a balance of clean air and
good jobs while making products that are
indispensable to modern life. It may surprise
some to know that the biggest contributor
R EGARDING “Loss ‘totally unacceptable’”
(Page C14, Sunday), University of Texas
Coach Mack Brown’s comment about his col-
Businessman/lawyer/activist made a lasting to nitrogen oxide emissions in the area is
not industry, it’s mobile sources — including
lege student athletes is exactly what ails col-
lege sports. I thought college students were
cars, trucks, lawn mowers, construction enrolled in institutions of higher education
difference in Texas public education.
equipment and trains. As residents of and learning to do just that — get an educa-
Houston we can all take a role in improving tion and learn.
RTHUR Gochman was that among Texas schools. The battle for air quality every day. Students who are athletically gifted
rare individual with a head equal funding continues to this day. — JIM GRIFFIN, can augment their academic endeavors by
chairman, East Harris County representing their school in sports. If a
for business and a heart for Gochman, born in New York City, Manufacturers Association student does poorly on a chemistry exam,
public service of the most was the son of Jewish immigrants and I hope the instructor does more to help the
meaningful variety. Goch- spent much of his life in San Antonio,
man, who died Tuesday at age 79, was where his father had a tire shop. Positive side to blackout student than attack his earnestness toward
learning and education. If the students on the
best known as the man behind Academy In the 1970s, he began transform- University of Texas football team were acting
Sports + Outdoors. But many Texans
will recall that this ultrasuccessful busi-
ing his family’s military surplus stores
into a Houston-based sporting goods
R EGARDING “Suspected hacker puts
HISD offline” (Page A1, Wednesday), it
sounded like the world was coming to an end.
“arrogant” and “entitled,” they probably
learned that from Professor Brown.
— RUSSEL SMITH,
nessman had a full and notable career and outdoors business that enjoyed How could children and teachers survive Pasadena
as an attorney working in the public unprecedented growth. He moved his without a computer and e-mail? Well, the sun
interest long before he ever entered the family here in the late 1970s to manage still came up. Maybe some of the kids actu-
ally learned something from a real discussion
world of big-time retail. what had become Academy Sports + and interaction with a human in class instead
The direction of Texas public edu- Outdoors. of being mesmerized with a 15-inch screen all
cation was forever changed by Arthur Today, Academy has 125 stores in day. There might be a lesson here. VIEWPOINTS
Gochman’s involvement in a 1968 case 11 states and sales of $2.4 billion. The — RANDY NEUMEYER, C/O Houston Chronicle
that challenged the way Texas schools privately held company is a mirror of Tomball P.O. Box 4260, Houston, Texas 77210
were funded. Arthur Gochman: focused, organized
The San Antonio case sought to close and above all, faultlessly attuned to They can help out, too Fax: 713-362-3575
We welcome and encourage letters and e-mails from readers.
the financial gulf between the heav- the needs and desires of its clients — Letters must include name, address and telephone numbers for
ily Hispanic Edgewood school district, Academy’s tens of thousands of loyal
R EGARDING “Big Feast volunteers needed verification purposes only. All letters are subject to editing.
where taxable property value per pupil customers. for turkey day” (Page B4, Wednesday),
which said that City Wide Club was about
stood at $6,000, and affluent districts Arthur Gochman’s legacy is as near 4,000 volunteers short of the 5,000 needed
such as Alamo Heights, with almost as the nearest Academy store, and as BIBLE VERSE
to serve Thanksgiving dinner, hand out food
$50,000 taxable value per student. dear to the hearts of Texans as the baskets, sort clothes and pass out household
Although Gochman lost his case schools attended by their children — items: It seems there should be plenty of All scripture is given by inspiration
at the U.S. Supreme Court, it set the schools made better for one and all by volunteers among the 20,000 to 25,000 indi- of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
viduals who will be served that day. reproof, for correction, for instruction in
stage for “Robin Hood,” the 1993 state Gochman’s dedicated efforts in the legal At family reunions, parties and other righteousness:
legislation aimed at equalizing funding arena. get-togethers I’ve been to, there are always — 2 TIMOTHY 3:16
Friday, October 29, 2010
OUTLOOK ¬¬¬ HOUSTON CHRONICLE B9
Lapse in judgment behind
latest ﬂap over Thomas
KATHLEEN PARKER says the Supreme
Court justice’s wife may have been trying
to promote her new nonproﬁt group
when she made the call to Anita Hill.
N 1991, the world divided itself in two Times about Ginni Thomas’ new nonprofit
camps: those who believed Anita Hill group, Liberty Central, which aims to orga-
and those who didn’t. I fell somewhere nize the tea party movement. She was trying
in the middle: She may have told the to monetize the moment.
truth, but so what? Let’s put a pause on nonsense and concede
On bended knee, give thanks if you are too that the Thomas affair remains a painful
young to remember. A brief summary: Hill memory and maybe, just maybe, the justice’s
testified against then-Supreme Court nomi- wife needs resolution.
nee Clarence Thomas that he had sexually ha- Meanwhile, a new player has emerged in
rassed her by verbally sharing his enjoyment the drama: Lillian McEwen, a former Thomas
of porn films and his sexual proficiency. girlfriend from way back, has decided that
Yes, yawn if you must. This was scandal- now is the time to set the record straight. Co-
ous, of course, because ... well, I’m still not incidentally, McEwen is shopping her mem-
certain. You see, in order to be scandalized, oir.
one must be deeply sensitive to the mention Monday night, McEwen sat down with
of anything sexual. Indeed, in this case, one Larry King on CNN (where I work) to share
needed to be scandalized for an indefinite her own sexual past with Thomas and her
period of time. belief that Hill told the truth. She told The
Hill’s testimony came several years after
the alleged harassment while she worked for
Thomas at the U.S. Equal Employment Op-
Washington Post (where I am a columnist)
that Thomas was “obsessed with porn.”
McEwen said she didn’t mind the porn, she GOP should avoid a ﬁght
over defunding of NPR
portunity Commission. In other words, she was just bored by it. She also told King that
didn’t protest at the time of these conversa- Thomas, who quit drinking while they were
tions, which were boorish, assuming they together, became ambitious and obsessed
happened as she described. Or were they with physical fitness.
merely lame attempts at humor? Thomas’ history of drinking is no secret to
The context has never been clear. In any anyone who bothered to read his memoir, My
case, other options available to Hill included
telling Thomas to get over himself. Or, at the
Grandfather’s Son. He is brutally honest about
his transformation from an angry boy aban-
JONAH GOLDBERG says starting a
very least, assuming deep offense, complain-
ing to a higher authority. She did neither,
doned by his alcoholic father, his upbringing
by his grandfather and the nuns at his little
culture war over Big Bird would deﬂect
In fact, nothing was mentioned until
Catholic school, and his battle with his own
demons and lonely rages to become a thought-
attention from more pressing issues,
Thomas was nominated to the highest court.
Would an African-American nominee of the
ful man deeply respected by fellow members
of the court.
such as the repeal of health care reform.
liberal persuasion have been subjected to the As Supreme Court analyst Jan Greenburg
same kind of interrogation? Only as precedent wrote in Supreme Conflict, Thomas is the IRST, a confession: I listen to NPR. complaints of groups such as the Council on
to riot. quiet force on the bench that brings others to Sometimes, when I have to explain American-Islamic Relations and the left-wing
Clarence Thomas’ “offense” had nothing to change their minds. this fact to my right-wing brethren, gadflies at Media Matters for America. If you
do with whether he did or did not say some- Only the heartless would not be moved by I’ll forgo trying to make the case dance when outfits like these whistle their
thing off-color to a subordinate. Rather, his Thomas’ description of lying at home in a fetal that much of what NPR does is usual tunes, odds are you tilt to the left.
offense was being a conservative black man curl, suffering the public humiliation of his simply great radio and instead I’ll note that NPR should be defunded, but not because
who had the audacity, among other things, hearing, and recognizing that the only route it’s more useful to listen to enemy broadcasts it’s liberal. If NPR were right-wing (stop
to suggest that affirmative action ultimately to survival was humility. than more friendly fare. laughing!) it would still be wrong for the fed-
might do harm to those it was intended to “It had long since become clear to me This is a serious point. Like never before, eral government to be in the news business or
help. that this battle was at bottom spiritual, not it’s now possible to get all of your news from to subsidize one set of views over another. The
Fast forward: Now we are revisiting the political,” he wrote, “and so my attention avowedly nonliberal or explicitly right-wing same goes for PBS. I have no huge problem
Thomas hearings, sadly owing to the poor shifted from politics to the inward reality of media outlets. (It’s been possible to dine ex- with funding documentaries about bears and
judgment of his own wife, Ginni. As all surely my spiritual life.” clusively on liberal fare since World War II, at mummies, but state-run television news is
know, she recently called Anita Hill and left The proud Thomas said during those hear- least.) Growing media diversity is great, but an embarrassment in the age of C-SPAN and
a voice mail suggesting that Hill apologize ings that he was the victim of a high-tech with it comes the danger of ghettoization. If YouTube.
for what she did. This jaw-droppingly odd lynching. Let’s hope he has enough spiritual we all retreat to our respective clubhouses and Heck, it already dropped the word “public”
lapse has prompted an unwelcome and sordid reserve to survive this second lynching — and simply consume the news and views that are from its name — it’s now just NPR. If it can
review of the past and a deluge of theories to a big enough heart to forgive poor Ginni. most conducive to our stop being public in
explain Ginni Thomas’ action. worldviews, the odds name, it can stop be-
For one, the same day of the phone call, a Parker’s e-mail address is kathleenparker@ for political progress Take it from a former public ing public in deed.
story ran on the front page of The New York washpost.com. diminish. Still, Republi-
This is neither a television producer: PBS and cans would be crazy
strictly conservative NPR have spent decades target- to make this a prior-
point nor some gauzy hardening their budgetary ity after the midterm
celebration of modera- elections. Andrew
tion and compromise. bunkers. McCarthy, my friend
Politics is ultimately and National Review
about persuasion, and colleague, insists that
if you can’t understand where your opponents defunding NPR should be a test case about
are coming from, you’ll never be able to con- the fiscal seriousness of the coming GOP
vince them they’re wrong or convince the ma- House majority. He compares NPR funding
jority of Americans your arguments are right. to a person wildly in debt charging a fancy
In fact, you may not even have the better argu- chandelier to his credit card while defaulting
ments if you’ve never tested them on people on his mortgage and his kids’ tuition. If we
who don’t naturally agree with you. can’t defund NPR, he asks, how are we going
The near suicidal idiocy of NPR’s deci- to repeal ObamaCare?
sion to fire Juan Williams, allegedly for his I take his point, but the analogy is flawed.
comments on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor Take it from a former public television pro-
about Muslims, will only worsen this trend. ducer: PBS and NPR have spent decades tar-
For good reason, millions of conservatives get-hardening their budgetary bunkers. Bust-
don’t trust NPR — and the rest of mainstream ing them quickly would take an enormous
media. And because Williams’ comments amount of time and effort, with minuscule
were entirely defensible, even laudable (he reward. Indeed, Democrats would love it if
honestly admitted a reflexive prejudice and Republicans allowed themselves to be baited
then condemned the idea that policies should into what would essentially be a culture-war
be guided by such prejudices), NPR’s stated fight over public radio (the last “war on Big
reason makes no sense. Bird” was a disaster for the GOP).
NPR claims it fired Williams because its Meanwhile, ObamaCare’s roots are weak,
journalists can’t offer “opinions.” This is a it’s exposed and unpopular — and it repre-
pathetic joke. By that standard, NPR’s Nina sents a far greater threat to fiscal health. For-
Totenberg — and many of her similarly opin- get chandeliers; going after NPR now would
ionated colleagues — should have been fired be like fixing a leaky faucet while your house
years ago. It’s obvious that NPR simply didn’t is on fire. You can get around to that after
like the fact that Williams was sharing his tal- you’ve dealt with the crisis at hand.
ents with Fox News, even as a liberal. Less ob-
vious, but perhaps just as telling, NPR seems Goldberg’s e-mail address is JonahsColumn@
to be lending way too much weight to the aol.com.
Claims of liberal bias in Texas curriculum ridiculous
State education board consistent opponent to the ultraconservative
bloc that made a national laughingstock of our
and honest, it was a process riddled with pres- existing TEKS is patently ridiculous.
sure for us to conform to SBOE’s conservative Despite the many credible voices of stu-
manipulated the standards state’s process for establishing curriculum version of history. dents, teachers, scholars and advocates, the
standards. The ultraconservatives especially chal- SBOE took its final vote and imposed its
It was in late May that SBOE took its final lenged the inclusion of more Latino names, distorted version of history on future genera-
By JULIO NOBOA vote on the TEKS, which will affect what claiming that there were more names of His- tions. Many prominent individuals, includ-
IVEN their power to establish the millions of students in Texas and dozens of panics now than ever ing Rod Paige, former
Texas Essential Knowledge and other states will learn about history and social before. On that claim, secretary of educa-
Skills curriculum standards for all studies for the next 10 years. That’s because they are factually cor- I experienced this entire process tion under President
subject areas and to influence the the TEKS standards serve as a foundation for rect, but only because George W. Bush, and
selection of textbooks, it would textbooks, teaching and federally mandated it is easy to demon- from the inside by serving on the professional organi-
behoove Texans to pay close attention to the high-stakes testing. strate an increase controversial writing committee zations, notably the
candidates running for the Texas State Board Nine of the 15 voted as a bloc to impose a when you’re beginning for U.S. history, and from the eye American Historical
of Education (SBOE) this November. School decidedly ultraconservative bias on the TEKS from zero. Association, insist that
board elections often get lost in the maze of standards for the history of Texas, of our During my previous of the storm, I could see the inner the implementation of
political races. However, whether at the state nation and the world. Throughout this long investigation into the workings of a corrupted system. the board’s decision be
or local level, it is school boards that make process, the local and national media focused contents of the cur- delayed, and I agree.
vital decisions regarding whom to hire, what well-deserved attention on their pronounce- rent TEKS standards Throughout this
curriculum and textbooks to use and how to ments and the names the SBOE sought to for U.S. history that have been in place for convoluted process I have made several sig-
assess students, teachers and schools. include and exclude, drawing from these an more than 10 years, I had discovered that not nificant discoveries. Foremost among them is
Last year, SBOE members were authorized abundance of media reports, interviews and one Latino name was mentioned at all for two that those who want to whitewash America’s
to select citizens from their areas to serve comedy. years of study. To add insult to injury, not history to fit their notions of patriotism are
on the TEKS writing committees for social Yet unlike all of these media reporters, I once does the term Latino, Hispanic, Mexi- no more patriotic than those of us who see
studies. While some members failed to ap- experienced this entire process from the in- can American, let alone Chicano ever appear America as it really is, and love it still.
point even one, René Nuñez, who represents side by serving on the controversial writing in these history TEKS standards. Thus, the
El Paso and District 1, was quite diligent in committee for U.S. history, and from the eye claim made by the ultraconservative SBOE Noboa is an assistant professor of social studies
securing a significant group of educators for of the storm, I could see the inner workings of bloc that their manipulations of history are in the College of Education at the University of
various writing committees. Nuñez was also a a corrupted system. Although ostensibly open intended to correct some liberal bias in the Texas at El Paso.
B10 HOUSTON CHRONICLE ¬¬¬
THE WEATHER PAGE Friday, October 29, 2010
Sunny and beautiful today.
High 75, with northeast winds
between 5 and 10 mph. Clear
skies tonight. Low 43.
Gene Norman on the
weather: Grab a jacket heading
out the door — you’ll need it.
Our crisp morning becomes a
pleasant fall afternoon with
plenty of sunshine and a lot less
wind than yesterday. The
extremely dry air keeps
the ﬁre danger
high as well.
on a scale of
1 to 10
The SciGuy report, with Eric Berger
Space shuttle Discovery’s crew arrived in Florida
Thursday for the vehicle’s planned launch — its last — on
Monday. The primary goal of the ﬂight to the
International Space Station is to deliver a 21-foot-long
cargo storage module, the last pressurized compartment
NASA intends to launch to the station. Weather, for now,
looks OK for launch. blogs.chron.com/sciguy