Thin air
Enough is enough. In the past, Buzz has tried to show compassion when KERA radio talk show host Glenn Mitchell dragged out his intro or lingered over an anecdote a little too long, obviously trying to fill what otherwise would be dead air. But this week, Mitchell hit his lowest point. And it was pretty low.

As he started his Monday noon-hour program, Mitchell informed listeners that his scheduled guest was Stanley Cutler, the University of Wisconsin historian who published a book of the transcribed tapes from President Nixon's years in the White House.

The historian instead had taken a Hawaiian vacation and blown off KERA. Cutler might be on a beach or under a palm tree, said Mitchell, ever the genial ignoramus. But he was not going to be on the show.

Mitchell lingered on that embarrassing point for several long moments--eating up air time--then announced his substitute topic for the call-in show: where Mitchell should go on his vacation.

Buzz's suggestion: Use the time to find work at a commercial station, where, when you hit a tough spot, you can punt and play ads.

Implausible deniability
Finally, a quick reader survey. The Dallas Morning News recently reported on its front page that DISD's Matthew Harden paid his home builder nearly $20,000 in cash for improvements to Harden's house. According to the story, the payments were made in amounts just under $10,000, avoiding federal reporting requirements for cash transactions designed to catch money launderers. Harden said he was unaware of the law. Yeah, sure.

A later story concerned a $5,000 donation to the pro-arena campaign from the Citizens Council attributed to the A.H. Belo Corp., the DMN's parent company. Belo gave the council $10,000 last year "no strings attached," except none of the dough was supposed to go to the arena campaign. Uh-huh.

Pop quiz hotshots: Who's peddling the bigger line of cow dung, Belo or Harden?

Happy New Year, judge
U.S. District Judge John H. McBryde rang in the new year with a pleasant little greeting from the 5th Circuit Judicial Council--sanctions that could crimp his career as a judge.

McBryde, whose attitude from the bench can best be described as something like a grizzly with a hangover, has brawled with the council for more than two years. His tough sentences and tougher dealings with lawyers have PO'd a number of defense attorneys, prosecutors, and fellow judges, leading the council to look into whether he has proper "judicial temperament" to sit on the bench.

The council's order apparently was faxed to the judge's chambers on New Year's Eve. In keeping with the KGB-like secrecy surrounding McBryde's case, the order was sealed pending McBryde's anticipated appeal. Off the record, two sources said that the order would prevent McBryde from being assigned future cases--at least temporarily--though he would remain a judge.

Pending the appeal, the Judicial Council has apparently stayed its order, and McBryde will continue to be assigned 44 percent of the cases filed in Fort Worth's federal courts.

--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams