Sugar Land race getting picky, picky, picky
..... This week I experienced a "Hobson's Choice" in writing
about the Sugar Land City Council race.
I had earlier told myself and several other
people that I was going to stay out of this race because I knew
everybody running, liked them all, and just decided the voters
didn't need any help from me.
However, a couple of issues have surfaced that
got my dander up. First, Russell Jones, a local attorney who is
running for city council, filed a suit against his opponent, Bill
Tallas, for having newspaper bags printed that left off the word
"for." It seems that the Texas Election Code requires that when
one is running for office, one has to say, "Vote Silly Politician
for Dogcatcher," or "Vote for Silly Politician for Dogcatcher.
This was part of the code designed to give
incumbents the edge because their political literature can leave
out the "for." The conventional wisdom (?) is that not having a
"for" implies that the candidate is already the officeholder. What
When I got word about the lawsuit, I called
Russell Jones, whom I've known for years and who served very
admirably on the Missouri City Council years ago. I told (shouted)
at him," That's exactly what we need in Sugar Land -- another nit
picking writ twit!
Jones said he contacted Tallas about the bags
the week before and Tallas refused to do anything about it. So in
order to require his opponent to obey the letter of the law, Jones
Now this race was Russell Jones' to lose. He
had more campaign money and a higher profile than Tallas. But
bringing the lawsuit energized Tallas' volunteers who stayed up
all night sticking "fors" on 5,000 bags, cussing Russell Jones and
vowing to work against him big time.
By the time they got to court Wednesday, Tallas'
volunteers had stuck on the "fors," and Jones realized he had made
a strategic error with the resulting uproar. His attorney told the
judge the problem had already been resolved and asked the judge to
ask both parties to let the issue die.
Hey, son, Russell Jones let the genie out of
the bottle, and guess what? It wasn't Barbara Eden. Jones' action
gave Tallas the only issue that has surfaced in this campaign so
It has caused all the other candidates with
printed bags to have to spend hours sticking "for" on their bags
also which means they're probably mad at Jones also.
So here I am, completely disillusioned with my
friend Russell Jones for requiring candidates to obey the letter
of the silly law when several school board members bring to my
attention that another Sugar Land City Council candidate went
around the law to enroll his children in schools other than where
they are supposed to go.
Michael Austin is another good friend of mine
with whom I do a lot of printing business (he's good) and who
contributes constantly to the community. However, several school
board members pointed out that the Austins go around the law in
enrolling their children in schools that are not in the zone where
I called the Austins and Dianna Austin said
they had residences in the zone where their children were enrolled
and had never made a secret of it. She said that her sometimes
extensive business travel necessitated her children going to the
schools near her after-school child care. "I am a mother and I
made that decision (about the schools) totally on my own. Mike
might make our business decisions, but I've always made the
children's educational decisions." Mrs. Austin said she thought
where the children attended school was a personal matter and
wouldn't make any difference in a city council race. She said
there were some other personal issues involved in the attendance
zone situation that still upset her even now.
So here is my dilemma. Iím fussing at Russell
Jones for requiring his opponent to obey the letter of the law, no
matter how silly. And I'm raising my eyebrows because the Austins
perhaps skirted the law, no matter how silly, in sending their
children to the schools of their choice.
You are wondering what a "Hobson's Choice" is
and you know I'm going to tell you. Hobson's Choice is a choice
without an alternative; the thing offered or nothing.
It is said to have had its origin in the name
of one Thomas Hobson (ca. 1544-1631), at Cambridge, England, who
kept a livery stable and required every customer to take either
the horse nearest the stable door or none at all.
So if you require that the Austins obey the
letter of the law, you must also require that Bill Tallas do the
You know, a political campaign is often likened
to a horse race with words and analogies taken from that world.
Maybe Hobson's Choice and its original meaning are well-suited to