Lawyer Who Refused to Give a Client a Refund Says He's Glad Texas State Bar Is Suing Him

Categories: Politics

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bloomsberries/Flickr
In 2007, former television journalist and journalism professor Eric Gormly made history at the University of North Texas for suing one of his own students. In the suit, he accused two professors and the student of conspiring to give him a bad performance review that got him fired. School officials said it was the first time they had heard of a UNT professor suing a student. "The university is disappointed that a former faculty member would file a lawsuit against a student who trusted him to do his job and follow university policy with respect to initiating complaints," a UNT official said at the time.

In an interview now, Gormly downplays his lawsuit against a student. "I did not sue a student. My attorney at the time included a student as one of the defendants," he says.

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Cullen Davis' Brother Forms the World's Saddest Republican SuperPAC

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Mike Licht/Flickr
Fort Worth oil heir Kenneth W. Davis Jr. is 89-years-old but continues to work every day as chairman of the Great Western Drilling Co. Impressive. Not too long ago, Davis decided to try something new: politics. The successful oilman cites unspecified "trouble" as his motivation to become political. "I never was involved in politics until I started wondering why we were having so much trouble," Davis told McClatchy News in November. "I saw what our federal debt was and that got me interested." Davis formed a SuperPAC, aptly titled Vote2ReduceDebt.

A really old, apolitical rich Texas oil guy suddenly wants to be involved in politics and starts a SuperPAC with a vague name? Sounds like just the recipe for shady, shadowy corporate politicking. Davis' Vote2ReduceDebt was clearly meant to be one of those big, evil and powerful SuperPACs that funnel secret money everywhere. But in the end, it turned out to be just a pathetic, wannabe-evil SuperPAC that you just sort of feel sorry for.

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Dallas Police Watched Body Cam Footage of Jason Harrison Shooting Before Giving Statements

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Mark Graham
David Harrison, above, is suing the city of Dallas over the death of his brother, Jason.
David Harrison is still waiting to see the footage of Dallas Police Department officers killing his brother. The June shooting death of Jason Harrison, the subject of last week's cover story by Sky Chadde, was the first fatal DPD shooting ever captured on the department's new body camera technology, but police say they can't release the video until after the grand jury proceedings.

While David Harrison says that his mentally ill brother was never a violent person, the DPD says otherwise -- the officers who responded to a 911 call from Jason's mother say that he aggressively came at them with a screwdriver that day, giving them little choice but to shoot.

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Texas Fights Air-Quality Standards Because Lower Ozone Levels Can Kill People

Categories: Politics, Science

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Wikimedia Commons/Turn 685
TCEQ: Sure it looks bad, but it's not like you're going to leave your air conditioning.
Here's the good news: Dallas-Fort Worth ozone levels for the first this year dropped below the federal standard of 84 parts per billion. The bad news: the 84-ppb standard the area has just now met for the first time is from 1997. The current standard is 75 ppb, well below DFW's 81 ppb mark. Worse still, most scientists consider the newer standard too high and say people exposed to that much ozone are at increased risk of asthma, heart disease and lung disease. For years, scientists and public health advocates have been pushing for a limit closer to 60 ppb.

Predictably, Texas disagrees, and not just on the grounds that tougher restrictions will eat into economic growth. As the Texas Tribune>reports, one of the state's top environmental regulators argues that lower ozone levels could actually kill people.

"I haven't seen the data that says lowering ozone will produce a health benefit," Michael Honeycutt, the agency's chief toxicologist told the Tribune. "In fact, I've seen data that shows it might have a negative health benefit."

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George Clayton's Hilariously Terrible Campaign for the Texas House

Categories: Politics

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You heard it here first: Former Dallas City Council member Linda Koop next month will waltz to victory in her Texas House race. We know this not because Koop is running as a Republican in a North Dallas district that, aside from an anomalous Democratic victory in the pre-Tea Party days of 2008, has been reliably red for more than two decades. Nor is it that Koop has a reputation as an intelligent, pragmatic policymaker, which in Texas political races is akin to running with leg irons.

Such considerations will be irrelevant come November 4 because her opponent is Democrat George Clayton.

Sane Texans will remember Clayton fondly as the refreshingly mild-mannered, climate-change-and-evolution-believing Dallas ISD educator who improbably toppled conservative State Board of Education member Geraldine "Tincy" Miller in 2010 only to lose his seat two years later. Perhaps his relative sanity on the SBOE blinded us to his shortcomings, since his campaign for state House has been amusingly pathetic.

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Plano GOP Ad Guy Wants You to Know, "Republicans Are People Too"

Categories: Politics

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Republicans Are People Too via Youtube
Really?
Vinny Minchillo had seen enough.

"Everyone talks about civil discourse, but when we talk to each other, especially on social media, there's no civil discourse," he says. "It's really, really funny. It's become OK to talk about Republicans in the most horrible terms possible. In the '80s and '90s on TV shows, the bad guys were always Russians. Now the bad guys are all Republicans."

Minchillo, who's worked for a number of Republican campaigns including Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential bid, decided to challenge preconceptions about members of the GOP, and maybe change a few minds, with a campaign called "Republicans Are People Too."

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Inside Davis' "Seductive" Plan to Boost Minimum Wage in Texas

Categories: Politics

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The All-Nite Images
A recent rally in New York to raise the minimum wage of fast-food workers: It's a controversial idea that's popular among many politicians, including Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis.

Amid the storm of fast-food worker protests for better pay, Democratic candidate for governor Wendy Davis announced late last week her plan to boost Texas' minimum wage to $10 per hour, which is generally how much national cost-of-living studies say is necessary for struggling workers to have improved quality of life.

Meanwhile, while Texas business organizations are crying out against the motion. Davis' GOP opponent Greg Abbott was predictably one of the first to speak out, saying a boost to minimum wage would hurt job growth and tarnish the "Texas Miracle" reputation. Bill Hammond, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, also thinks the "long arm of government" shouldn't be mandating wage raises.

"We see the minimum wage as a starter or training wage," says Hammond. "So if we were to boost the minimum wage overnight, the starter jobs would basically be eliminated." But Dr. Mike Davis, an SMU economics and business professor, says the issue is not so simple.

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Americans for Prosperity Conference Wraps Up with a Heartfelt Kiss for the Free Market

Categories: Politics

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Sky Chadde
On message. All the time.

I'm sitting next to a well-dressed home-schooled high schooler from just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana, watching failed Senate candidate and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina talking about the dignity of jobs that don't pay a living wage. Why Fiorina is speaking at Defending the American Dream isn't really clear. She did an awful job at HP, has never held elected office and seems incapable of saying anything remotely incisive. Nevertheless, her performance distills Americans for Prosperity, and its conference, to its essence.

Fiorina was introduced as someone who worked her way from being a secretary to being the first female CEO of a Fortune Top 50 company (until she was booted out with a $21 million severance package). Like a lot of things said at this conference, that's technically true. Sure, Fiorina's dad was a federal judge and law school professor and her mom was a professional artist. She may have graduated from Stanford before getting a master's from MIT's Sloan School of Management, too, but she did do some secretarial work after dropping out of UCLA's law school before ditching and heading to Italy to teach English.

There's nothing wrong with any of that, of course. It's just that presenting Fiorina as a salt-of-the-earth, rags-to-riches story is disingenuous.

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Rick Perry Feels the Love at Americans for Prosperity Summit

Categories: Politics

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Rick Perry (via Twitter)
Honestly? It was about what you would've expected.

The irony that Americans For Prosperity's Defending the American Dream summit is being held in a hotel paid for with taxpayer funds can be a little overwhelming. Everyone you talk to opposes regulation and taxes with a religious fervor while at the same time praising the setting and the glory of Governor Rick Perry's free market paradise.

Tim Phillips, American's for Prosperity's president, had the honor of providing the introductory hagiography for Perry and promised that everyone in the room stood with the indicted governor in his fight against an "overzealous prosecutor."

Then it was time. Little Texas' "God Blessed Texas" blasted over the public address system and Perry entered like a wrestler thoroughly prepped for scripted battle, full of bravado and wearing his ever-present grin.

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Americans for Prosperity's Defending the Dream Message: Don't Be Crazy

Categories: Politics

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Sky Chadde
Americans for Prosperity sure know how to brand.
Friday and Saturday, the Omni Dallas hosts Americans for Prosperity's "Defending the American Dream" conference. Featured speakers include Governor Rick Perry, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Hensarling and Indiana governor Mike Pence. We sent two of our reporters to get the full experience.

Political rhetoric on both sides has the potential to get out of hand and send speakers down the rabbit hole of sounding crazy. Throwing red meat is fantastic if you want to whip up the base, but if you're trying to gain some converts, not so much. At Americans for Prosperity's summit, the panelists and session-leaders seemed to take this to heart.

With social media and the Internet, "everyone's voice can be heard, but there's some people we wish whose voices couldn't be heard," said Erik Telford of the Franklin Center.

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