What a year it was for Texas. What fantastic events, what great people and wonderful victories. I am referring, obviously, to 1836. As for 2009, it ranks right down there with 1348, which gave Europe the black plague. Still, we must look back with joy – joy that 2009 is over. Remember the draught, the swine flu that closed schools, the GOP’s down and dirty gubernatorial primary, while UT and A&M made all kinds of questionable news. So let’s salute those people, occasions and over-the-tops which made this past year so forgettable. Mexia’s own Sir Allen Stanford was jailed after allegedly bilking investors out of $7 billion. Not only was his lordship stripped of his knighthood, but Stanford got into a fight with a fellow inmate over the use of a phone. Stanford wins our Bernie Madoff Achievement Award. First, Let’s Hang the Lawyers: The court-appointed receiver for Stanford’s business, Dallas lawyer Ralph Jarvey, billed $27.4 million for his first 14 weeks of work. The SEC objected, noting that the fee boiled down to $4,500 an hour. U.S. Judge David Godbey of Dallas gave Jarvey most of the request. If at First You Don’t Secede: “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.” – Gov. Rick Perry. Bones of Contention: Gov. Perry broke his collar bone but not, as was rumored, while patting himself on the back. It was a bike wreck. Lance Armstrong took off three and a half years, then returned to competitive cycling only to break his right collarbone during a race in Spain. Ocean Front Lots – Wide Beach: State Rep. Wayne Christian, Republican from Center up in East Texas, slipped a little-noticed exception to the Texas Open Beaches Act to allow a few ocean-front houses on Bolivar Peninsula to re-build on what is now public land, since Ike washed away the beach in front. It seems Christian has a house there. Gov. Perry signed it. We’re Number 1 (and 2): Newsweek rated the top public high schools in America. The Talented and Gifted School and the Science/Engineering School, both of Dallas, finished Number 1 and 2. Biggest Loser: Willis Willis, 67, of Grand Prairie, was told by a convenience store clerk that Willis’ $2-million winning Lotto ticket was only worth $2. The clerk, Pankaj Joshi, went to Austin, cashed the ticket and left with the immediate payout of $750,006. He was last reported in Nepal. The Longhorn of Plenty: UT Systems Regent Robert Rowling abruptly resigned as both regent and as head of the UT Investment Management Co. -- which handles UT’s endowment -- when questioned why the fund’s staff got $2.3 million in bonuses although the fund lost $2.5 billion in fiscal 2008. This past fiscal year the six overseers of that UT fund received more than $3.3 million in bonuses even though the fund lost another $4.1 billion. Hullabaloo, Disconnect, Disconnect: Texas A&M President Elsa Murano was forced out after tangling with A&M System Chancellor Mike McKinney who wrote a scathing critique of Murano’s job as president, including that she didn’t communicate well with, uh, Chancellor McKinney. Then McKinney suggested that one person hold down jobs as both chancellor and as president of the A&M flagship campus at College Station. That person would be – one guess -- McKinney. Murano will stay with the Aggies but is taking a year off while collecting her salary of $425,000 and will be paid an additional $295,000. Under the terms of the agreement, she will return as a professor with a starting salary of $260,000. Taxpayers rejoice. Grope Therapy: DPS chief Col. Stanley Clark abruptly resigned after allegations he touched female co-workers in inappropriate ways, blew kisses, and called one “my girl.” Clark was the interim director after Col. Tommy Davis retired amid several charges and debacles including non-guarding the Governor’s Mansion which was almost destroyed by an arsonist’s fire. Houston, We Have No Problem: Annise Parker was elected the first openly gay mayor of any major American city. He Shudda Run in Houston: Three-term San Angelo Mayor J. W Lown resigned before taking office for his fourth term (with 89 percent of the vote), saying he had fallen in love with an illegal Mexican – a male illegal Mexican, and was in Mexico trying to bring his lover back into the U.S. Our famed How Tweet It Is Prize: Just prior to President Obama’s first speech to Congress, the office of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton of Ennis sent out the following Tweet: “Aggie basketball game about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.” The message was shortly followed by: “Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer.” The Size of Taxes Are Upon You: Former Dallas mayor turned Vinson & Elkins lawyer Ron Kirk agreed to pay $9,975 in back taxes before becoming U.S. trade representative. Let Your Fingers Do the Talking: Tennessee Titans’ owner Bud Adams -- who as owner of the Houston Oilers managed to alienate most football fans in Texas – shot the bird at opposing Buffalo Bills fans and got hit with a $250,000 fine. Finally, in our Defective in the Police Farce category: Conroe Police Sergeant Michael Edward Tindall allegedly robbed $28,672 from a Montgomery County bank. His disguise of a motorcycle helmet and dark glasses didn’t work, because – get this -- he worked there as an off-duty security guard. Ashby is awarded at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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