Back in the olden days, as the Rosenthal Administration was crashing to the ground, one of the accusations often thrown around was that Chuck had run a "good old boy network".
Now, we all have a generalized idea of what that phrase means, obviously -- giving jobs to friends, ignoring charges against friends, and utilizing county money for personalized perks or silly and frivolous things, right? And given some of the decisions made by Chuck, arguing that there was no "good old boy network" at all is sometimes a difficult position to take. I do not, however, think it was nearly pervasive as the media made it out to be. Although there have may have been some personnel decisions made by him that raised some eyebrows, I never saw him refuse to file charges on anyone based on the fact that they were friends or political cronies. Perhaps I was too low on the totem pole at the time, but I'm just saying I never witnessed it personally.
That being said, that even if Chuck was guilty of utilizing the fabled "good old boy system", he apparently has nothing on Pat Lykos, who has seemingly turned the Harris County District Attorney's Office into her own personal playhouse with little to no shame about who knows about it.
During the past eight months, we've already discussed the little things Lykos has done to make the Office a better place -- not for the people who work for her or the citizens she was elected to represent -- but only for herself. Sadly, we aren't even a quarter of the way done with The Snookems Era, and we've already watched her stretch an extremely budget-strapped Office into her own personal playhouse by:
-making her prosecutors (including 1st Assistant Jim Leitner) accompany her to the basement to smoke while discussing death penalty cases (NOTE: Um, Patsy, that's still inside a public building and kind of sort of against the law. I'm just sayin' . . .)
-hiring a driver to escort her around town.
-having Hannah Chow strategically place water coolers throughout the Office.
-hiring political cronies and friends into top level spots (including one prosecutor from Montgomery County who apparently just stuck around long enough to get her retirement and is retiring at the end of this month. Thank you so much for your eight months of service to Harris County, ma'am.)
-hiring a speaker to come lecture her prosecutors and let them know that their primary objective was to make Lykos "look good".
Now, before I sound entirely too harsh about Patsy, I should point out the positives. She was able to send a message across the county that the D.A.'s Office didn't take DWIs all that seriously anymore, and let the Houston Chronicle know that the media would have a major influence in all decisions affecting criminal justice.
It seems to me that the one thing Lykos isn't doing from the 6th Floor is her job.
Right now, there is at least one Felony Court that is running short a Number Three prosecutor, which is absolutely unsustainable in Harris County. I've talked before about the job of a Felony Two -- the prosecutor in the court who tries 99% of all the murders and 100% of all the sexual assaults and aggravated robberies. It's the toughest job in the Office, and it can't be done without the assistance of a Felony Three, who handles the logistics of court every morning.
The idea of leaving a Felony Court shorthanded is absolutely inexcusable, especially when there are other felony courts that have four prosecutors. There is no rational explanation why one would be running with two prosecutors, unless Lykos and the Davidians are trying to kill the Two in that court.
Failing to keep your courts fully staffed is, uh, incompetent and negligent, Pat.
Now, I've never been an elected official, so I'm sure that Patsy and the Gang are very busy beyond my comprehension. It's a wonder that she has had time to chain smoke, quite frankly.
But apparently Lykos has found the time to redecorate her office and get the Office a dog.
While leaving her prosecutors flapping in the wind, Patsy has made time to have the wall that seperated her office from her secretaries removed and the carpet pulled up and replaced with hardwoods. She said the carpeting was making her sick.
Yeah, I'm sure it had nothing to do with the smoking or the smoke getting trapped in the carpet.
And, once she got her home away from home all squared away, she has entered into a project that will bring an Office Dog to 1201 Franklin as part of the Victim Witness Program.
Yeah, I'm not making that up. I'm not making this part up either -- they are calling the program "Paw & Order: SDU". The "SDU" stands for Special Doggie Unit.
Seriously, I'm not kidding.
And her prosecutors are overworked and underpaid. But hey, at least she got them a dog.
Lykos' stunning ability to avoid doing the actual job she was elected to do is just staggering. I'm reminded of when I worked for my dad when I was 16 years old and he would look at me being lazy and say "Would you do some work, please?"