News bulletin from Corruptdrunktown: a grand jury under the drunk lady who is the Travis County district attorney in Austin has declined to indict University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall.
The drunk lady's grand jury devoted months to finding some way to criminally indict Hall, who is from Dallas. Hall had uncovered corrupt backdoor admissions to the University of Texas law school, corrupt payments to UT law school faculty and corrupt practices regarding UT endowments. All of Hall's charges were upheld in a subsequent investigation by an international private eye company hired by UT. Most of the accused have been fired or have resigned from the university.
Background from Corruptdrunktown (aka Austin): Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg went briefly viral on Youtube two years ago when she made an enormous ass of herself while being booked on a drunk driving charge. Governor Rick Perry, whom she was investigating for corruption, then made an enormous corrupt ass of himself trying to use her drunk driving as an excuse to defund Lehmberg's public integrity unit, for which Perry was criminally indicted last August.
Unrelated to any of these other corrupt drunk matters, Hall uncovered emails, letters and other documents revealing, for example, that UT President Bill Powers was admitting laughably unqualified candidates to his law school to curry favor with key members of the Legislature. Obviously this was an allegation of corruption, although there was no mention in any of Hall's public statements of any of the involved legislators being especially drunk.
The corrupt but not necessarily drunk legislators then attempted to impeach Hall for exposing them, convening a special impeachment committee and paying for two massive outside investigations. To the enormous frustration of the corrupt legislators, their own lawyers told them eventually that it was not against the law for Hall to expose their corruption and that they had no grounds on which he could be impeached.
The corrupt legislators issued a finding of no impeachment but coupled it with what they called a "censure," which amounted to a kind of memo saying that they were really pissed off at Hall and wished they could whip his ass. But, you know, they couldn't. So they took the matter to the drunk lady and asked her to see if she could get a grand jury to indict him.
The finding yesterday echoed every single one of a series of earlier findings about Hall. To the enormous disappointment and frustration of just about everybody in Corruptdrunktown, it isn't against the law to expose corrupt people. In fact the law smiles on it.
The drunk lady's grand jury issued another memo (copy below) which sounded very much like the one the impeachment committee had published. It said that Hall had inflicted a terrible burden on the university by asking for so much public information -- he asked them to pile 40 file boxes in a room so he could go through them -- and that he should be fired from the board of regents because he had allowed the things he found in those file boxes to become known to the public instead of keeping them secret the way corrupt drunk people do.
The angry memo did not mention that all of the things Hall said he had found in his investigations turned out to be true, that Hall has never once been found to have lied or even exaggerated or that Hall has been totally vindicated on all of his allegations by subsequent investigations.
You have to get how people's minds work in Corruptdrunktown. In Corrupdrunktown, all of those things I just said about Hall are why they think he should be sent to jail.
Here, let me give you a window. The Austin Chronicle, like my paper, the Dallas Observer, is an "alternative" newsweekly, though not related in any way to the company that owns the Observer. So what do you think Corruptdrunktown's alternative weekly would think of a guy who exposed official corruption?
Yesterday a guy named Richard Whittaker, writing in The Austin Chronicle, said Hall's sole purpose in investigating UT, "seemed to be finding reasons to get rid of UT President Bill Powers." Whittaker said Hall's efforts had the "ironic side effect" of turning "his nemesis," Powers, into "a virtual folk hero."
Well, yeah, and getting him canned, effective this June. And, uh, what folk, what hero? Outside of Austin, folk heroes usually are the ones who fight the bad guys. Not the bad guys.
I don't know if you ever saw High Noon, a 1952 black and white movie starring Gary Cooper about a brave sheriff who has to face down the bad guys while all the townspeople cower behind closed doors. But that movie, a classic, doesn't end with the bad guys shooting Gary Cooper in the face and then everybody coming out of their houses and cheering. That could be the plot for a cool Italian Western but not for a mainstay of American culture and morality.
Yesterday I looked up Hadleyville, New Mexico, the town in which High Noon was set. Turns out it's fictitious. I probably knew that. I was just hoping it might be real, because I wanted to check to see if Hadleyville had an alternative weekly newspaper back in the late 19th century. I thought maybe they might have had a writer who could have written a piece with the headline, "Sheriff Called Turd for Shooting Cool Guys."
The decision by the drunk lady's grand jury not to indict Hall for exposing corruption at UT and in the Legislature ought to be the end of it, but Whittaker ends his piece on what is for him a hopeful note: "With Hall's former political patron, Gov. Rick Perry, no longer there to defend him," Whittaker writes, "it still seems his position becomes more untenable by the hour."
Again, that's the alt weekly. Think what the establishment is like.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.