But this is serious stuff, folks. Sunshine Week sprang from Sunshine Sunday, when Florida newspaper editors banded together in 2002 to fight legislators’ attempts to put a stranglehold on public information post-9/11. Other states, including Texas, have begun similar efforts. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a champion of open government, convinced the 79th Texas Legislature to require public officials to receive training on open government. (See “Record Shock,” above.)
Most city council members haven’t seen the resulting state-issued training video yet, but Chuck Silcox did and quickly realized that one of his fellow council members – who just happens to be in a run-off for Justice of the Peace – stomped all over the open government laws last year when she privately solicited votes from Silcox and Donavan Wheatfall for a pet project – gentrification of her neighborhood. “Here’s Becky Haskin wanting to be a judge, and she doesn’t know what the law says,” Silcox said. “She was trying to line up votes for the Woodhaven project, and she kept pestering and pestering us, and finally we decided to sit down and meet with her.”
The private pitch didn’t change their minds about the attempt to use eminent domain to raze apartments inhabited by low-income families, to create space for high-end houses and retailers. Happy Sunshine Week, Becky!
Forgive Static for this long-after-the-fact little tidbit – statistics and brain cells had to be gathered. Remember when Fort Worth police cited Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams last month for playing his car stereo too loudly while cruising his old Cowtown stomping grounds? Somebody complained, and a police officer in the area located Williams’ car, pulled him over, gave him a ticket for violating the noise ordinance, and almost arrested him for possession of a little stash. (The former O.D. Wyatt High School football star avoided a marijuana charge when his passenger claimed the weed.)
Static, curious as a clichéd cat, decided to find out how often police cite drivers for playing car boomboxes at ear-shredding levels. Turns out citations are almost non-existent. Fort Worth police received 38,674 noise complaints from June 1, 2005, to Feb. 6, including about 2,900 regarding noise from vehicles – and in that last category issued only 29 citations. Which means 99 of 100 didn’t result in a citation. Most frequently, Lt. Dean Sullivan said, “we weren’t able to locate them.” If police tried to nab every motorist who rattled windows and nerves with high-powered boomboxes, they’d have to issue thousands more tickets. It’s obviously not a high priority. But nature and karma have a way of ensuring that people reap what they sow. Justice thy name is … sorry, I didn’t catch that … Tinnitus, is it?