The 2011 Bum Steer Awards

January 2011By Comments

Illustrations by Lou Brooks

How outrageous was 2010? Pretty outrageous. Heck, we could have named a Bum Steer of the Year every month beginning in January and never run out of contenders. Just think what we had to work with: The ridiculous State Board of Education, which seemed hell-bent on convincing the world that Texas is a state bored of education. Or the villainous BP, which took a giant leak in our Gulf and on our energy sector. Or the hapless Democratic Party, which couldn’t have done worse in Texas if it had renamed itself the Socialists Against Hunting Party. Or the listless Bill White, who put voters of all ideological persuasions to sleep with his “Look, Ma, No Excitement!” gubernatorial campaign. Or the shameless Rick Perry, who bravely refused to participate in a debate unless his opponent made public his eighth-grade report card. And let’s not forget the unscrupulous Tom DeLay, convicted money launderer, who fared no better with a Travis County jury than he had with the judges on Dancing With the Stars. Would the Hammer, the proud winner of our 2010 Bum Steer of the Year Award, be a back-to-back champ?

Alas, no. When it came to bestowing our lowest honor, we could not escape the case being made on a weekly basis by the two most prominent sports franchises in the state, the ignominious Texas Longhorns and the disastrous Dallas Cowboys. The Horns started the year playing in the national championship and ended it just hoping to qualify for a spot in the Leonard’s Lube and Oil Change Bowl. Which they didn’t. Meanwhile, up the highway, the Cowboys started the year by blowing up their old stadium and ended the year by imploding. America’s Team became America’s Bad Dream. Week after week, the Cowboys invented new ways to lose. Fumbles! Interceptions! Excessive celebration! But, hey, that just gives the team more time to get their new stadium (to which they still can’t sell naming rights) ready for the Super Bowl, in February. Those who can’t, host.

As we went to press, the two teams had a combined record of 8-15. We’ll leave it to others to explain how, exactly, these storied franchises collapsed so mightily and so simultaneously. Ours is not to reason why but, rather, to point fingers and laugh cruelly. And so, with not-so-great fanfare and all due disrespect, we declare a tie and split the dishonor. Congratulations to the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns, our bums and steers of the year.

Escaping back into his cell was the true genius of the plan

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials admitted that Skyler Steddum, an inmate at Sugar Land’s Central Unit, had, as many as seventy times, broken out, shopped at the Walmart across the street, and then slipped back in, with guards none the wiser.

He believes in double taxation for his representation

Garland state representative Joe Driver admitted that for years he had double-billed travel expenses to both the state and his campaign organization and pocketed the extra cash, claiming he thought that was the proper way to do it.

It was the breast of times, it was the worst of times

In a quest to acquire the largest fake boobs in the world, Houston’s Sheyla Hershey traveled to Brazil to have a surgeon replace her already huge implants with insanely mammoth ultra-bazongas (no U.S. doctor would do it). But after months of fighting a virulent, life-threatening postsurgical infection, she reluctantly had the implants and most of her badly damaged natural tissue removed.

“However, we can neither confirm nor deny reports that Mr. Gilbert is currently in possession of an overdue library book. Next question”

To preempt his primary opponents from using the information against him, Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Hank Gilbert, of Whitehouse, revealed that he had been driving for the previous two years with an expired license.

A Family Connection Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Dallas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was found to have provided 23 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to her relatives and the children of her top aide, even though none of them were eligible.

It’s hard to be inconspicuous in a dusty old tiara

Shannon Marketic, Miss USA 1992, was jailed for shoplifting an Oil of Olay product and several baby items worth a total of $90 from a Target in Denton.

The children on the bus go ow, ow, ow

Eleven Del Valle schoolkids were treated for bruises, bumps, and other minor injuries after their school bus made a sudden, unexpected stop during the morning route. Several kids claimed that bus driver Rene Nunez-Lemus had intentionally slammed on the brakes because they were ignoring his demands to be quiet.

Conspiracy theorists were quick to point out that the film showed an unfamiliar bush near the grassy knoll

Dallas singer Erykah Badu created a stir in Dealey Plaza when, during the filming of a music video, she stripped naked in front of onlookers and dropped to the ground as if dead near the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated.

Hook, line, and stinker

Garland’s Robby Rose pleaded guilty to attempted felony theft after he was caught stuffing a lead weight in a fish during a tournament at Lake Ray Hubbard in an attempt to win the grand prize, a $55,000 fishing boat.

Shoot first, make poor editing decisions later

Crawford’s Ted Nugent paid a $1,750 fine and pleaded no contest to baiting a deer and not having a properly signed hunting tag in California. A state game warden discovered the infractions while watching an episode of Spirit of the Wild, Nugent’s Outdoor Channel television show.

But I also have a nightmare

At this year’s annual ArtWalk in Abilene, the theme of which was “Intergalactic,” one of the featured events was a recitation of the “I Have a Dream” speech, read by “Martian Luther King.”

They Were Labeled “Does Not Contain Human Heads”

After a Southwest Airlines cargo worker at the Little Rock airport held up a shipment sent to a medical device manufacturer in Fort Worth because the boxes were mislabeled, authorities inspected the boxes and found they contained approximately fifty whole and partial human heads.

Could have been worse. Could have been Tulsa

Smith-Southwestern, an Arizona-based souvenir distributor, marketed an Austin postcard featuring a picture of downtown Oklahoma City.

“Yes, I have a 3:30 appointment with Dr. Brown to have my eye blackened”

Dr. Michael Glyn Brown, who founded the Brown Hand Center, a Houston-based carpal-tunnel treatment chain, was arrested for assaulting his wife, Rachel, who appears in widely seen commercials that end with Brown saying, “The Brown Hand Center will care for you just as I care for my own family.”

If you can maaaaake it there / You’ll make it aaaanywhere / El-gin, El-giiiiin

The short-lived ABC TV series My Generation, which was set and filmed in Austin, used several locations in downtown Elgin for scenes set in New York City.

Be all you can pretend to be

Recruiting officials in Fort Worth enlisted Jesse Bernard Johnston III into an army reserve unit as a sergeant with a security clearance and command responsibilities, without attempting to corroborate Johnston’s claim of prior service in the Marines. Had they bothered, they would have learned that he had virtually no military experience at all.

Explains the $89,000 price tag

Dallas police donated an old filing cabinet to the dallas city-store, not realizing it contained 123 bags of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

It’s the number two scariest thing that’s ever happened to her

Austin resident Patty Everett was stuck in rush-hour traffic when an eighteen-inch snake slithered out of her car’s AC vent. Asked by a reporter if she had been frightened, Everett said, “Well, somebody crapped in my pants.

“Remember the Alamo® Brand War Memorial Visitors Center!”

The daughters of the Republic of Texas filed an (ultimately unsuccessful) application to trademark the term “The Alamo.”

Thankfully his iron gavel was in his other sweatpants

When Houstonian Adam Kliebert aimed surveillance cameras at his driveway to learn who was scratching the paint on his and his girlfriend’s cars, he discovered that the man keying the vehicles was his neighbor, former state district judge Woody Densen, who pleaded guilty in April.

Poor aim not being one of them

Kara Bishop, the manager of Jeff Barton’s primary campaign for Hays County judge, publicly apologized for throwing her phone at Barton, hitting him in the face and bloodying his lip. Bishop said the incident occurred when she and Barton, who won the race, were discussing some stress-related problems she’d been having.

“It should be right there on the dash—next to my dignity”

Police investigating a possible break-in at Regal Plastics in Fort Worth discovered employee Kenneth Clyde Jackson and arrested him after they found a bag of marijuana in his truck, where Jackson had sent the officers to retrieve his identification, since he was, at the time, stark naked.

If it’s meat loaf, white rice, steamed brussels sprouts, iced tea or skim milk, and blueberry cobbler, it must be the second Tuesday in April

Leslie Chisolm, of Friendswood, revealed on a local newscast that she plans in advance what her family will eat for dinner for every single night of the year.

Now that’s hard time

Kytrina Lewis, a guard at a Dallas County jail, resigned after being accused of fraternizing with a male prisoner, who performed a lap dance at her desk and masturbated to photos of her contained on her cell phone, which she had given him.

He also demanded $200 for mental anguish caused by an unevenly warmed Cinnabon

Houston personal-injury attorney Bill Ogletree threatened to sue the City of Houston, Continental Airlines, and a concessionaire at George Bush Intercontinental Airport unless they paid him $800 for a leather coat he left at an airport food court.

Not including the time we gave the chair of the geology department a swirly

Texas A&M University—Commerce football players were reprimanded after swiping all campus copies of the student newspaper, presumably bcause the top story that day concerned the arrest of two players in a drug sting. “I’m proud of my players,” head coach Guy Morriss said. “This was the best team-building exercise we have ever done.”

As it happens, that’s what the Chisolms had for dinner on Thursday May 13

To test how space-craft trash bags would perform with various likely contents, NASA scientists used a mixture of cottage cheese, tomato soup, apple juice, soy sauce, and frozen vegetables as a substitute for human vomit.

And He said, “Weaken the testing regime on thy blowout preventer.” And it came to pass. And He said, “Let thy cement be as watery mud.” And it came to pass. And He said, “Ignore thee warnings from thy contractors, who are idle.”And it too came to pass. And then He said . . . “RUN LIKE HELL—IT’S GONNA BLOW!”

Speaking in Washington, D.C., about the Gulf oil spill, Governor Rick Perry said, “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented.”

His wounds were the only evidence of penetration

Michelle Thomas, of Hudson, was arrested for stabbing her common-law husband with a pair of scissors. The victim told police Thomas had become enraged when he couldn’t sexually satisfy her.

Minus a couple of fools, it was a foolproof crime

A man in a dress and a teenager armed with a caulk gun fled empty-handed from the Austin convenience store they were trying to rob after the 68-year-old clerk hit the teenager with a trash can.

Will the gentleman from Michigan who slaughters infants please yield for a point of clarification?

Randy Neugebauer, of Lubbock, shouted, “Baby killer!” at Michigan representative Bart Stupak as Stupak was speaking to the House of Representatives on abortion provisions in the health care reform bill. Neugebauer later issued something of an apology, claiming he was referring not to Stupak but the legislation.

The bank had zero percent interest in the finer points of home finance

After workers for Bank of America changed the locks and disconnected the electricity at Alan Schroit’s Galveston home as part of a foreclosure proceeding, 75 pounds of fish in his freezer thawed and leaked, causing water damage and a permanent stench. Schroit, in fact, owned his home free and clear and had no relationship with Bank of America.

Experts believe the girl to be signaling the following: “’Sup, playa? I’m mad cheerful!”

School administrators at San Antonio’s James Madison High School refused to allow freshman Charlie Patton’s photo to appear in the 2009—2010 yearbook. One school official reportedly told Patton that her goofy-grinned pose could be interpreted as a gang sign.

It was a queso poor judgment

Randy Scott Esckilsen, of San Antonio, allegedly knifed Marty Henke as the two fought over a plate of nachos. The bleeding Henke called the police, who arrested both men when they discovered Henke had an outstanding drug warrant.

Apartments for rent? We have naan

Leasing agent Daniesha Davis filed a housing discrimination complaint against her employer, Stonebridge at Bear Creek, in Euless, claiming she had been instructed not to lease apartments in certain buildings to Asian and Middle Eastern applicants because “they were dirty and they cooked with curry.”

That kind of evidence is pretty rare, but the steakout was well-done. He was no small fry, no flash in the pan, all sizzle and no steak. No, he was prime. The cops grilled him, threatened to beef it out of him. Still, he wouldn’t be cowed and refused to be the butt of their accusations, even when faced with vealed threats. So one of the detectives—Stew? No, it was Chuck—steered him next door for a New York strip search. Found a shank on him too. No matter how you slice it, the police deserve to be braised. Now, here’s the rib: Will anyone post his bail once he’s charred?

Ronnie Allen Brock, who a clerk said had shoplifted meat a dozen times from an Austin grocery store, was apprehended after he was seen stuffing fifteen pounds of beef down his pants.

It was a good gig ’em while it lasted

According to a story in the Bryan—College Station Eagle, Texas A&M University hired Alexander Kemos as its third-most-senior administrator at a salary of $300,000 per year, without first verifying his credentials, which included a completely fabricated stint in the Navy Seals and non-existent master’s and doctoral degrees from Tufts University.

Copies of Alexander Kemos’s résumé available upon request

In a cost-saving move, Texas A&M decided to stop stocking student dormitory bathrooms with toilet paper.

Atascosa County: It’s like a whole other country

Atascosa County’s absentee ballot mailing included an instruction card that, instead of the Texas flag, erroneously displayed the Chilean flag.

The evidence was stacked against her

Amber Cheek, a dancer at a Waco topless club, was convicted of assault for an altercation with fellow dancer Staci Fox, who testified that Cheek had left disfiguring bite marks on her breasts.

“Officer, I can explain . . . no, wait, I can’t”

Police officers responding to an after-hours burglar alarm at a Litchfield, Connecticut, bank found actor and Temple native Rip Torn staggering around, drunk and barefoot, with a loaded gun in his pocket. Torn had broken into the bank thinking it was his home.

Today the gold medal in curling, tomorrow—world domination!

In a widely vilified column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, sports columnist Gil LeBreton compared Canada’s conspicuous patriotism during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics to Nazi Germany’s rabid nationalism during the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Take your car and shut it / I ain’t workin’ there no more / But I got the secret password / And can log in like before / No firewall can help you / I’m rotten to the core / I’ll take your car and shut it / If I ain’t workin’ there no more

Omar Ramos-Lopez,recently laid off from a used-car lot in Austin, employed a web-based system to remotely disable and set off the horn alarms of more than one hundred cars belonging to the dealer’s customers. The technology Ramos-Lopez exploited is used by auto finance companies to warn buyers who are behind on their payments.

But fortunately, it’s not me

The Texas Medical Board disciplined Fort Worth oncologist Dr. Mary Milam for telling a terminal patient, “If it were me, I would get a bottle, a gun, and go into the woods.”

Rotten kids refused to ridein the ice chest in the trunk

Larry Garza, of Corpus Christi, was stopped for suspicion of driving while intoxicated with a child under fifteen. The officer who pulled Garza over found two kids, ages two and four, riding in the car unsecured and two cases of beer in a child safety seat.

“But I would rule out the possibility that I might get elected”

The campaign of Stephen Broden, a tea party—aligned candidate challenging Dallas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, unraveled after he told a reporter that he would not rule out a violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

Smile and say, “Sleaze”

Waiter Mauro Rito, of Humble, was sentenced to eight months in jail after he was discovered to have placed a video camera under the sink in the ladies’ room. Investigators said the only people captured on the video were a restaurant manager and Rito himself, who was seen in close-up as he installed the camera.

He almost got away with it, till someone leaked

Fred Jessie Cole Jr., who co-owned a medical-supply company in Houston, was convicted of defrauding the Texas medicaid program by overbilling nearly $1 million for a supply of adult diapers.

I’m Blake Farenthold, and I approve these jammies

During Blake Farenthold’s successful campaign to unseat 27-year congressman Solomon Ortiz, a photograph surfaced of the Corpus Christi Republican wearing duckie pajamas and posing with a lingerie model in a bar.

In case of fire, pull down . . . my pants

Alejandro Garza was fired by the Austin fire department for uploading explicit personal photos to adult dating sites. according to Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, the photos “connect his sexual proclivities with the fire-fighting profession.”

Too Sooner?

Oklahoma University receiver Jaz Reynolds was suspended from the team for three weeks for comments he made on his Twitter account shortly after a gunman with an AK-47 terrorized the University of Texas campus and committed suicide in a school library. Reynolds tweeted, “Hey everyone in Austin, Tx . . . . . . . kill yourself #evillaugh.”

Corporate cash means always having to say you’re sorry

Calling the Obama administration’s attempts to secure restitution for clean-up efforts and damage claims resulting from the BP oil spill a “shakedown,” Congressman Joe Barton, of Arlington, who has received $27,350 from individuals and political action committees associated with BP, opened remarks at a House Energy and Commerce Committee’s inquiry by apologizing to then—BP CEO Tony Hayward.

We don’t need no ed-u-ca-tion

The State Board of Education passed a resolution praising Governor Rick Perry’s decision not to compete for up to $700 million in federal education stimulus funds.

To Whom It May Concern: For a Scumbag, He’s Highly Qualified

A disgruntled former employee of the Texas Rangers revealed to the press that manager Ron Washington had tested positive for cocaine during the 2009 season. Apparently the ex-employee leaked the story because the team wouldn’t give him a letter of recommendation.

The forecast is low tonight and high tomorrow

Hunt County Sheriff’s Department officers investigating a plane crash near Caddo Mills Municipal Airport found a shipment of marijuana inside a recently downed and hastily abandoned plane, which explained earlier reports from Hunt County residents that large duffel bags stuffed with high-grade reefer had fallen from the sky and landed on their roofs.

Try restarting with better clients

When a court unsealed documents relating to a lawsuit filed against Dell Computer over thousands of defective computers it sold to a North Carolina company, journalists discovered e-mails from Dell’s counsel, Alston & Bird, that pleaded with the company to do something about the one thousand Dell computers the firm had purchased that it believed might be defective as well.

The restaurants with customers were all too crowded

Cable network CNBC chose Katz’s Deli & Bar, in Austin, as the broadcast site for a segment touting Texas as the best state for business—just days before the restaurant’s parent company, M&M Katz, filed for bankruptcy.

Slow miracle week

The Reverend Peter Aguilar, the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Laredo, wrote a newspaper column titled “Pork rinds are truly a gift from God.”

School board, school board, where are your brains?

The State Board of Education voted to drop the books of Bill Martin Jr., the author of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, from the third-grade curriculum because it believed he was also the author of Ethical Marxism—which was, in fact, written by a different Bill Martin.

He still has flashbacks of that cat’s cruel laughter echoing through the pipes

A San Antonio man attempting to rescue a cat in a storm drain got stuck himself and had to be freed by firefighters.

Apparently they were tipped off by every interview he has ever given

Willie Nelson was arrested after the U.S. Border Patrol searched his tour bus at a Sierra Blanca checkpoint and discovered six ounces of marijuana.

“Okay, beautiful hair and the Texas Ethics Commission”

Before the Republican gubernatorial primary, Parker County rancher Billy Mitchell ran newspaper ads critical of Governor Rick Perry that began, “I believe Rick Perry’s only asset is beautiful hair; otherwise he is just completely full of crap!!!” Although the ads carried the disclaimer “Political ad paid for by Billy Mitchell,” the members of the Texas Ethics Commission (half of whom were appointed by Perry) took the rare step of fining him $1,300 for not filing the appropriate paperwork.

What, and cover their two-drink minimums?

Michael Galloway, of McKinney, was arrested for child abandonment after leaving his nine-month-old and three-year-old in his car while he visited a Dallas strip club.

The night was less of a downer than they’d hoped

Two teens from North Richland Hills called police to report that they had been robbed in the parking lot of a Watauga fast-food restaurant by two armed men who had stolen their cell phones and 24 Xanax, which the victims apparently didn’t have a prescription for.

For He so loved His only son that He sent him to candi’s downtown Cabaret and got him a table by the stage

Brett and Emily Mills pay monthly visits to Waco topless clubs as part of their “Jesus Loves Strippers” ministry.

To protect and to serve. And do a little weeding

Corpus Christi police spent hours removing what they believed were marijuana plants from a city park, transporting them to the police station, and entering them into evidence before realizing that the plants were horsemint.

Impressive, considering the Legislature wasn’t even in session

The top ten cities on Men’s Health magazine’s October list of “America’s Hotbeds of Sex,” which was based on local birth rates, figures for sexually transmitted diseases, and sales of condoms and sex toys, included four from Texas: Houston (#10), Arlington(#7), Dallas (#2), and Austin (#1).

“Gimme a P!”

Several cheerleaders at Saginaw High School were discovered to have urinated in the soft drinks they served their teammates during a basketball game.

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