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The Best and Worst Legislators 2009

THE WORST: Senator Mario Gallegos Jr.

Houston

Last session, Gallegos was sidelined by a debilitating illness, narrowly averting death thanks to a liver transplant. Now he looks better than he has in years. In fact, you could say the old Mario is back.

We don’t mean this in a good way.

When Gallegos makes the trip to Austin every two years, he packs his bags with old scores to settle and tucks in a few schemes to help his friends. The Houston Rodeo books alternative Latin music, rather than the Tejano bands that Gallegos prefers? He’s got a bill for that: an outlandish requirement that the charitable organization follow state bidding laws. An old opponent runs for Houston City Council while serving on a community college board? A Gallegos proposal would have required her to resign her board position. Houston firefighters, on the other hand, have their own personal representative on the floor of the Texas Senate. Gallegos, formerly one of their ranks, filed a bill requiring sports authorities operated by the City of Houston and Harris County to hire only City of Houston firefighters—to the exclusion of county and suburban forces. Then there was the bill to ban large trucks from parking overnight in driveways of residential areas. You guessed it: He had a problem in his own neighborhood. Thanks to the vigilance of Gallegos’s colleagues, most of these bills were sent on permanent vacation. Considering his recent health ordeal—and his track record in Austin—we believe Gallegos deserves the same, and more: a long, happy retirement. Soon.

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