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February 13, 2021 Updated: February 13, 2021, 3 a.m.
Presidio District Attorney Rod Ponton accidentally used a cat filter during a trial Tuesday.
394th Judicial District
Happy Valentines Day! That’s tomorrow, February 14th, 2021. We mention the year because if you’re heading to a socially detached picnic on Negrohead Lake in Baytown, you might think it’s still the 1950s, or even 1991, the year of The Then-Senator from Texas, Rodney Ellis, led a bill that would strip the word “negro” in 19 locations across the state. The measure was adopted; Case solved, right? Well, only one of the 19 names was changed, and that was in 2018. Apparently the renaming is with the US Board on Geographic Names, which tried to make the changes but has been overridden by local officials. Researcher Jennifer Runyon told NPR that they reached out to the counties at the time and “a lot of them said,” No, don’t change those names. “At least the Mayor of Baytown and the Harris County Commissioners Court are now united in introducing resolutions to remove the offensive name. On Valentine’s Day 2022 in Baytown’s new Lake Henry Doyle.
It was almost 30 years before people realized that racist place names were still a thing in Texas. It took a little over a month to find out that the Dallas Mavericks had stopped playing the national anthem that season. It was barely a day before Lt. Governor Dan Patrick valiantly plunged into the fray, making the Star Spangled Banner Protection Act one of his legislative priorities (glad nothing else is going on). Team owner Mark Cuban said his decision was made to “reflect those who feel the anthem does not represent them”. If the Cuban expected a convincing discussion on the matter, including the importance of rituals and the unitary role that a hymn can play, he was disappointed. Faster than you can scream “Shot o’clock!” The NBA stated that all teams would play the anthem. The NBA’s decision has everything to do with the Founding Fathers – mostly the Benjamins – but Patrick clearly needs a refresher course on American freedom and liberty.
Let’s change our tunes from Downbeat to Up and sing the praises of a tune that came from Marshall Project reporter Keri Blakinger’s Twitter request for a shanty tune about Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Her call was answered in Grace Gilker’s amusing song “Paxton’s Privateers,” which has lines like, “I investigate and prosecute crimes, but to be honest, I’m kind of busy with mine.” “I filed a lawsuit to overthrow the election, but I still haven’t gotten that cute legal protection” and of course his catchy chorus: “I just thought these laws didn’t apply to me, I got away with it all. “The fact that Paxton – pending fraud trial and under investigation by the FBI – is still AG may be a bad grade, but Gilker’s ode is music to our ears.
Nobody has written a song (yet) about Harris District Attorney Kim Ogg, but the prosecutor inspired a petition from Change.org. Under the headline “Remove Kim Ogg as a Public Health Threat,” the appeal was published shortly after the New York Times reported about Dr. Hasan Gokal reported, the Harris County Public Health doctor charged with stealing COVID vaccine doses. While it looks like Gokal may have violated the vaccination protocol, in his version of events he tries his best to ensure that excess vaccines aren’t wasted. Gokal has been fired and Ogg will take the case to a grand jury even after a judge blows up her office for attempting law enforcement. The petition had a little more than 500 signatures on Friday morning (“Paxton’s Privateers” has over 10,000 calls). Although Ogg shouldn’t be sweating, maybe she should reconsider.
The internet is not just about firing people. A GoFundeMe page started by a Houston teenager who used her college savings to keep her mother from being evicted after she lost her job had more than $ 165,000 in donations as of Friday. It’s the kind of news that is both happy and dreary, but we’ll focus on the positive and wish the best to Yond Prep East End Senior Alondra Carmona, who was inducted into prestigious Barnard College.
A Texas attorney made international news this week when a faulty zoom filter brought him to trial as a cat. Presidio County’s attorney Rod Ponton was surprised when a cat’s face – reflecting the movements of its own mouth and eyes – appeared on the screen. “I’m live here. I’m not a cat, ”he said. We never thought we would hear such a deep, existential cri de coeur on Zoom. The hilarious video was a catnip in a pandemic-ridden world, and Ponton is okay about his newfound fame. “If I can make everyone laugh at my own expense, I’ll take it,” he told the Chronicle. That’s a cool cat.